Dhe Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has asked the United Nations to punish Russia for the war of aggression against his country. “A crime has been committed against Ukraine and we demand punishment,” Zelenskyy said in a video message to the UN General Assembly in New York on Wednesday. Russia must be punished for the killing, torture, humiliation and disastrous turmoil it has thrown Ukraine into.
At the same time, Ukraine and Russia carried out one of the largest prisoner exchanges in the war that lasted almost seven months on Thursday night. 205 captured Ukrainians were released, according to the head of the Ukrainian Presidential Office, Andriy Yermak. These included defenders of Mariupol, who had resisted the Russian conquerors entrenched in the Azovstal steelworks until mid-May.
In Russia, several thousand people protested the Kremlin’s announcement that 300,000 reservists would be called up. According to the civil rights portal OVD-Info, the police arrested more than 1,380 protesters in 38 cities by Wednesday evening, most of them in St. Petersburg and Moscow. For Ukraine, Thursday is the 211th day of the Russian war of aggression.
Zelenskyy wants to isolate Russia
As a punishment for Russia, Zelenskyy called for the neighboring country to be isolated in international organizations – at least as long as the aggression continued. “Take away the right to vote! Strip the delegations of their privileges! Cancel the right of veto if it is a member of the UN Security Council!” the Ukrainian President appealed. Blocking all relations with Russia, including trade, is both a punishment for Moscow and a step towards peace for Ukraine. Most of the representatives of the 193 UN member states gave standing applause to the speech of the Ukrainian President. Meanwhile, the representatives of Russia remained seated.
Prisoner Swap: “Our Heroes Are Free”
According to Yermak, Ukraine released 55 Russian soldiers who had been captured during the offensive in the Kharkov region in early September. The arrested pro-Russian politician Viktor Medvedchuk, a confidant of President Vladimir Putin, was also allowed to leave the country.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said the exchange was mediated by Turkey, according to the state news agency Anadolu. Erdogan called the agreement an “important step” towards ending the war in Ukraine. Five of the Ukrainian commanders captured in Mariupol are in Turkey under Erdogan’s special protection, Yermak said. “Our heroes are free,” he wrote.
Separatists release ten foreigners
As part of the exchange, the Moscow-controlled separatists in eastern Ukraine released ten foreigners who were flown to Riyadh through mediation by Saudi Arabia. These were five Britons, two Americans and one each from Sweden, Croatian and Moroccan.