President of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelenskyy in Kyiv met with Ukrainian defenders who were released from Russian captivity, and presented state awards.
"Today, we honor those who represent Ukrainian resilience, who are the face of our great state," Zelenskyy said.
Addressing the military personnel present, among whom were officers, sergeants, soldiers and sailors, the Head of State said that he was happy to see them free. He said that during the full-scale invasion of the Russian Federation, 1,331 Ukrainians have been released from Russian captivity.
"Military and civilians. Soldiers of our army, navy, national guardsmen, policemen, border guards, security forces. Doctors, rescuers, our volunteers. People from all regions. People who went through battles in the north, in the east, in the south, on Snake Island. Mariupol and Azovstal. Defense of Kyiv and Kharkiv. Defense of Kherson region, defense of our Zaporizhzhia. These are people of different ranks, with different personal stories, but whom we were all waiting for at home. For whom we fought! They fought equally for each and every one. Who went through captivity, but kept their dignity," the President said, adding that their feat should be remembered by all Ukrainians.
The Head of State also praised those who worked tirelessly to release Ukrainians from captivity. As Zelenskyy said, this is a very difficult job that requires a lot of effort.
At the same time, he said: the number of those released is significant, but Ukraine remembers those who still remain in Russian torture chambers, and will work to return them home.
"A total of 1,331 is already free. But we must return all our heroes who were captured by the enemy, all those who were deported, who were subjected to repression and who are kept in various "isolation" in Russia and in the temporarily occupied cities of our state," Zelenskyy said.
The Head of State thanked the entire team working on the release of prisoners of war in Russia: Chief of Defense Intelligence of Ukraine Kyrylo Budanov, Head of the Office of the President Andriy Yermak, Secretary of the Coordination Office for the Treatment of Prisoners of War Dmytro Usov, acting Head of the Security Service Vasyl Maliuk, Minister of Internal Affairs Denys Monastyrsky, Head of the State Property Fund Rustem Umerov, Verkhovna Rada's Commissioner for Human Rights Dmytro Lubinets, and members of the Coordination Office for the Treatment of Prisoners.
The President also emphasized the importance of spreading the stories of Ukrainians who survived Russian captivity, as well as those still detained by the Russian Federation. In his opinion, it is important to tell society about their resilience, heroism and adamancy.
"As long as the fighting continues, as long as our heroes are dying in the trenches, and as long as there is at least one prisoner of the enemy, this war is not over for me and, I'm sure, for each and every one of you," the President said.
Those present also observed a moment of silence in memory of the soldiers who died for Ukraine and remained forever in the history of our country.