“Ukraine returns 215 POWs, including Azovstal defenders, from Russian captivity” – TTG

Azovstal defender, senior sergeant of the 36th brigade of the Ukrainian Armed Forces Mykhailo Dianov was released from Russian captivity under a prisoner exchange between Russia and Ukraine on Sept. 21, 2022. Left: Dianov at the Azovstal steel plant during the Russian siege of it. Right: Dianov after prisoner exchange on Sept. 21. (Azov/Operatyvnyi ZSU via Telegram)

Russia released 215 prisoners of war, 205 Ukrainians and 10 foreigners, in a prisoner swap on Sept. 21, according to Andriy Yermak, the head of the President’s Office. The released POWs include 108 members of the National Guard’s Azov regiment, some of whom defended Azovstal, a steel plant that was the Ukrainian military’s last stronghold in Mariupol, Donetsk Oblast, before the city became entirely occupied by Russia in May.

Among the released Ukrainians are 124 officers, including high-profile commanders such as lieutenant colonel of the National Guard of Ukraine Denys Prokopenko, Azov deputy commander Sviatoslav Palamar, as well as the commander of the 36th marine brigade Serhii Volynskyi, who were the faces of the Azovstal defense.

According to Yermak, 10 foreigners who fought for Ukraine were also released under the swap. They include foreign soldiers who were illegally sentenced to death by Russia’s proxies in the occupied territories of Donetsk Oblast.

Yermak said that under the deal, Ukraine got 200 prisoners of war in exchange for Viktor Medvedchuk, Ukraine’s most high-profile pro-Kremlin politician and Russian President Vladimir Putin’s former right-hand man in the country. Medvedchuk was arrested in April on the charges of high treason.

Separately, five top commanders of the Azovstal defense were exchanged for 55 Russian prisoners of war, whose names weren’t revealed. The five commanders were delivered to Ankara in Turkey. According to President Volodymyr Zelensky, the condition is that they will stay in Turkey “until the war ends.”


Comment: Perhaps this was why Putin delayed his announcement of mobilization for 24 hours. His mobilization order and his threat of nuclear war, of which he is not bluffing this time, certainly overshadowed the news of the POW release. Still, the Russian and Separatist war bloggers went batshit over the news.

Besides Medvedchuk, who are the 55 Russians in this exchange? Putin must want them back very badly to give up 215 Ukrainians in exchange. The Russians aren’t saying. Tis a puzzlement.


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29 Responses to “Ukraine returns 215 POWs, including Azovstal defenders, from Russian captivity” – TTG

  1. Barbara Ann says:


    Yes, Strelkov used colorful imagery to describe what the Kremlin leadership has just dumped on the heads of Russians answering the mobilization call. This mini ‘re-Nazification’ decision is certainly a puzzlement, the “optics” as we in the West would say, are a disaster.

    On the ground I read concerns in the Russian blogosphere that Liman will be recaptured soon. Would I be correct in thinking the P-66 highway to the north is vital to the Russian supply lines for Sievierodonetsk, Lysychansk and in fact the whole northern salient in Luhansk? What are the odds of it being all over by the time the reservists show up?

    • TTG says:

      Barbara Ann,

      It’s very possible that they will all be back at the pre-invasion LOC fortifications long before those reservists show up. Whether the Russians and Separatists will be in any condition to hold at that line is another question. Lyman and the hard won Severodonetsk will surely be lost.

      • Bill Roche says:

        Putin described the call up as a steady but unhurried thing.
        Given the “deliberate” nature of the call up and the time to process, equip, train, and deploy troops into units, I can’t see how the first soldiers could take the field b/f March. Of course troops w/need officers and NCO’s (even the Russians must have NCO’s).
        So a commensurate number of these will need to be created for Putin’s 300M draftees. What does the RM do b/t now and then?

        • TTG says:

          Bill Roche,

          At least Putin knows mobilization on this scale will be a tough row to hoe. He’s not totally delusional. In the meantime, he has no choice but to keep stumbling along as he’s been doing, make louder noises and insist that he means it this time. Or he could pull his troops back behind his own borders.

          • Barbara Ann says:


            The troops will be behind his own (newly minted) borders in a few days time. Putin can then brand the war as a defensive one. Looks to me like a highly novel way of trying to recover from a disastrous foreign adventure, at least in the sphere of PR for the domestic audience.

            Medvedev said this of the referenda “..not a single future leader of Russia, not a single official will be able to reverse these decisions”. This is Russia burning the boats and an attempt to stymie all domestic opposition. Protesting the defense of Russian soil in wartime is treason. They clearly don’t give a **** what the rest of the world thinks of the impending annexation.

            It remains to be seen what additional military action may be taken, but this exercise will end the SMO and herald the Third Patriotic War. You don’t do that if the intention is to de-escalate.

          • TTG says:

            Barbara Ann,

            The USSR pulled the same kind of referendums in the Baltics to justify their incorporation into the empire/union. These new referendums will have the same validity as those from the 40s. It is definitely PR for the domestic audience.

    • Fourth and Long says:

      There’s speculation on Telegram channels, at least by Kadyrov who was at least as furious as Strelkov about the decision, that it was done so that no Ru fighter in the future will take prisoners. Kadyrov specifically mentioned that infuriating as the trade was he will continue to support the president.
      Keep in mind that the text in these channels might be insertions.

      Keep in mind that things like this trade, so infuriated to the hard guys, can be done via finesse on the sly – the Chief might not know – by people who want to either end the fighting, see Putin overthrown or particularly- note well – by superpatriots in Ru who want to outrage people because:
      A) they want him overthrown because he’s not sufficiently hardline
      B) ditto but because they think he’s off his rocker/meds
      C) want him out because they want a negotiated settlement they perceive or know he won’t go for but believe is a realistic proposal.

      Could be a clever (IO opp is that what you call it ?) for purposes of division/panic.

      Could be something much more diabolical too. The released prisoners might have been ____ wo their knowledge. That rumor is leaked later and the enemy goes bananas.

    • Pat Lang says:

      He says he is not bluffing, but the threat was against those who attack Russia with nuclear weapons.

  2. LeaNder says:

    Ukraine returns 215 POWs, including Azovstal defenders, from Russian captivity” – TTG

    Ukraine returns Avostal defenders? I understand your fingers would probably fall off, if you had to type “Russia returns Azovstal defenders in prisoner exchange”.

    Still odd.

    • TTG says:


      That’s the quoted title of the article, hence the quotation marks. I’m sure that has something to do with the source… The Kyiv Independent.

      • Fourth and Long says:

        It probably just means Ukr returned its boys. Through their actions – bargaining, whatever – they got their own back.

      • LeaNder says:

        I got that. Sorry, TTG, who but me should realize that this time, we are facing the real Hitler reborn vs Saddam & Bin Laden. After all media has been trying to tell it to this stubborn child for more then a decade.

        Curious: Is there already a law in place in the Ukraine that dictates media has to verbally passivate the enemy in news via transitive versus intransitiv & generally a passive voice. Or is it even more complicated socially and grammatically.

        Ukraine had Russia return its soldiers. Congratualations to the Ukraine.

  3. John Merryman says:

    I realize the partisanship runs deep here, but as a military blog, why not looking at both sides, as an exercise in objectivity, in order not to be caught off guard, if things don’t go as planned.
    In this instance, much chatter about disaffected Russians running for the borders, so wouldn’t it be a play to say, hey, we really care about you and will do whatever to get you back?
    On the other side, these are the Azov boys, presumably the ones imprisoned in that barracks that got attacked. Then they get shipped off to Turkey for the duration. What’s with that? Maybe they didn’t want to go back to Ukraine for various reasons and this was part of the deal.
    Frankly the fact is, there are a LOT of cooks in this kitchen, not just the West and Russia, but Turkey, China, etc, which Putin does have to juggle. It really is three dimensional chess and the assumption around here, is it’s really just checkers. There doesn’t seem to be much ability to think outside the box.

    • John Merryman says:

      As my father used to say, assume is just as it’s spelt, it makes an ass of you and me.

    • Pat Lang says:

      John Merryman
      I have looked at both sides. The Russian forces’ performance is contemptible.

      • John Merryman says:

        As they were saying before the war, the West wants a war with Russia to the last Ukrainian. We appear to be reaching that point.
        Do we go big, or do we go home?

        • TTG says:

          John Merryman,

          Who’s they? I don’t remember anyone in the US, Ukraine or in Europe wanting Russia to launch their invasion. We didn’t recognize Russia’s seizure of Crimea, but we weren’t advocating for Ukraine taking it back by force.

          • John Merryman says:


            According to even your powers that be, the sanctions were all set, loaded and waiting.
            I think it’s safe to say there isn’t any serious argument this conflict poses any risks to the territorial integrity of the United States. It does pose a threat to our metastatic, infinite growth financial system.
            So I suspect the question will be, as those powers that be, who pull the strings of those who pull your strings, realize a nuclear war would not only pose a threat to the US, but there might be a missile or two, with The Hamptons zip code on it.
            Do they suddenly decide the upcoming elections are far more interesting, than a global school shooting and suddenly the media is far more interested in the local school board, than it is about what is happening in Ukraine?

          • TTG says:

            John Merryman,

            Yes, sanctions were planned out and negotiated among the Western allies while the Kremlin was planning and preparing its invasion of Ukraine. That’s as it should be, just like the USG and DoD have myriad plans on the shelf for a host of contingencies. Those sanctions came at a cost to the Western allies, yet they stuck with the plan. I guess they weighed the financial and political costs to themselves against the cost of Ukraine’s freedom and independence and were willing to pay that price. Good on them. It sure beats the “I got mine so bugger thy neighbor” approach.

            I gather you and several others here are somewhat confident that Putin and the Russian government will launch nukes. Sure there are some in Moscow who appear willing to do so, but I have a higher opinion of the Russian MOD and government that you. They understand what launching nukes means to us all. Those talking flippantly about nukes are as dangerous as those talking flippantly about regime change in the Kremlin.

            BTW, I’ve never been to The Hamptons.

      • John Merryman says:

        It does seem the Russians were largely backstopping the breakaway republics, similar to, but somewhat more boots on the ground, than the West is backstopping Ukraine. Meanwhile the Ukrainians were pretty much full on mobilized, like the breakaway republics.
        So now Russia has officially stepped across that line. Does Nato?

  4. John Merryman says:

    I live about 60 miles north of DC. Hopefully the wind is blowing out over the bay on the day WW3 occurs.

  5. John Merryman says:


    You obviously have a lot more emotional commitment to this conflict than I do. I just like to follow the news and try to make sense of all the various perspectives.
    The sanctions really do start with the US pressuring Germany to cancel Nord Stream 2. The US doesn’t like Europe cozying up to Russia and likely China, for evident economic and political reasons.
    Yes, the West would have preferred Russia to turn around and bend over, but apparently they didn’t see fit to do so, so we find ourselves in a pickle.

    • TTG says:

      John Merryman,

      Yes, I’m sure I have a lot more emotional commitment to this conflict than you do. It’s regional rather than specifically Ukrainian. When my extended family learned I was going SF and on to 10th Group, there was a lot of celebration and toasting. They were dreaming of the family being back in the fore of the fight to rout the bolsheviki from the homeland. Kind of a wild eyed bunch, my family.

      I followed Solidarność in Poland closely both out of personal interest and because my ODA’s warplan involved linking up with those types. Later I kept track of Saljudis in Lithuania, the implosion of the USSR and the collapse of the WTO and the communist governments across Eastern Europe. I was a case officer in Germany by that time and worked those issues professionally. Even in those early days of freedom, there was a widespread wariness of a resurgent Kremlin. The new Russia was not new. The old apparatchiki didn’t disappear. They just reshuffled positions. And here we are today.

      • borko says:


        You do realize the US can be seen in a similar light ?

        For example, the US and its allies had a big role in Syria being torn to pieces by arming and supporting various, often extreme factions, as long as they fought the Syrian government.

        Now, that Syria needs its resources to rebuild, the US is keeping some of its most important resources out of its hands.

        The previous POTUS said about the presence of US soldiers in Syria something like: “I like oil, we’re keeping the oil”

        He says that and, no one in the West bats an eye.

  6. Leith says:

    Here are better photos of Dianov just after his release. Seems like he was starved when he was a POW by his captors.


    Meanwhile Russian TV shows returning Russian POWs that look fat and happy.

    • TTG says:


      I’m surprised he still has his arm. When I saw that bone brace on his arm in the conditions of the Azovstal, I figured it would be a miracle for him to avoid a bone infection at best or possibly even amputation.

      When I broke a femur in Hawaii, I ended up in traction for 6+ weeks at Tripler AMC, an open air hospital. An operation with plates and screws would have fixed me up quickly, but the orthopedic doctors were loath to cut you open for fear of bone infection. That was a real problem in Hawaii at that time. There was a Sergeant Major on the ward that had a leg that looked worse than Dianov’s arm due to bone infection. As it was, the wounds for my tibial traction pin was scrubbed and disinfected at least twice a day to keep infection at bay.

      • Leith says:

        I’m guessing the 4cm of bone that he lost were probably due to a bone infection. But I’m no doc. The bow in his humerus looks horrific.

        • TTG says:


          My guess is that his external brace was meant to apply proper traction for the humerus to heal properly. My leg was monitored constantly to assure proper length and alignment. Otherwise, I’d be a serious gimp today. Between combat conditions in the Azovstal and no or little treatment as a POW, he’s lucky it healed at all. That Sergeant Major’s leg I mentioned looked every bit as bad as Dianov’s arm. And that was in a major Army medical center. Given the state of modern orthopedic practices, I’m pretty sure Dianov’s arm can be corrected. A few years ago, an orthopedic surgeon asked about my tibial traction scars. When I explained, he exclaimed, “My God, we don’t do that anymore.”

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