Ukraine will exchange 52 wounded soldiers from the Azovstal steelworks in the port city of Mariupol after their health condition stabilizes, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Reintegration of Temporarily Occupied Territories of Ukraine Iryna Vereshchuk said in a Telegram post on May 17.
She said that the humanitarian operation is underway.
"Fifty-two seriously wounded our servicemen were evacuated yesterday, in the interests of saving lives," Vereshchuk said.
"After their health condition stabilizes, we will swap them for Russian prisoners of war. We are working on the next stages of the humanitarian operation."
Ukrainian Deputy Defense Minister Hanna Malyar said on May 16 that 264 defenders of the Azovstal steelworks had been evacuated to the temporarily occupied territories in Donbas.
She said that 53 seriously wounded defenders had earlier been taken to a healthcare facility in the occupied town of Novoazovsk for treatment, while another 211 had been evacuated to the occupied village of Olenivka through a humanitarian corridor.
Later, the Ukrainian soldiers will be returned to Ukrainian-controlled territory as part of a prisoner swap.
Malyar added that the Ukrainian authorities are doing everything possible to save the rest of the Azovstal defenders.
More than 1,000 Ukrainian soldiers have been fighting invading Russian troops in Mariupol, a destroyed port city now mostly occupied by Russia. For weeks they have been calling on the world to help evacuate civilians and their wounded comrades.