The price of captivity: Hero defender of Mariupol lays bare his horrific war wounds as he is reunited with his family after four months of being kept prisoner by Putin’s men
- Mykhailo Dianov was one of the 205 prisoners of war released by Russian soldiers on earlier this week
- The Ukrainian war hero was last seen during the siege of Azovstal steel works in Mariupol back in May
- Devastating images of the Ukrainian soldier show the horrifying effect being held captive had on the man
- The freed prisoners, including five British men, were released in exchange for just 56 Russian prisoners of war
Shocking images have shown the horrifying effect being held captive for almost four months by Putin’s men has had on Ukrainian soldiers.
Mykhailo Dianov was one of the 205 prisoners of war traded to freedom on Wednesday night. Devastating images posted on social media of the Ukrainian soldier reveal the true impact being held under Russian siege had on the war hero.
A photo shared of Dianov during the siege of Azovstal steel works in Mariupol showed him smiling and flashing a peace sign, despite his arm being bandaged up after it was shattered as his unit endured a Russian siege.
The latest photo of the now-freed Ukrainian shows him still smiling, but extremely thin and pale, with scars and bruises on his arm and face.
His right arm is unhealed and according to a Ukrainian new site is missing 4cm of bone due to the inhumane conditions he was kept under.
A photo Mykhailo Dianov before he was held captive as a war prisoner by Putin’s men (left) and after his release on Wednesday (right). Dianov spent almost four months as a prisoner of war, where his already shattered arm lost 4cm worth of bone due to the poor conditions
A photo of smiling Dianov during the siege of Azovstal steel works, despite his arm being bandaged up after it was shattered as his unit endured a Russian siege (left)
During his release on Wednesday he was seen smiling again, and flashing a peace sign to the cameras as he walked free
Dianov, as well as his other soldiers released in the shock prisoner swap, survival was against the odds, with many doubting they would be seen alive again.
After he was freed from imprisonment, Dianov visited a city hospital in Chernihiv, where he was reunited with his friends and family.
People online, who saw the wounds that Mr Dianov received after being held captive, have been shocked by the photos.
One Ukrainian journalist said: ‘Mykhailo Dianov, a musician and a Ukrainian soldier recently released in a prisoner exchange.
‘First photo — Mykhailo during the siege of Azovstal. Second photo — Mykhailo after Russian captivity. I have no words. Terrifying.’
Another added: ‘When I opened this picture, I myself physically hurt. What these unbreakable people have survived. They need our help now.’
Dianov flashing a peace sign as he visited a city hospital in Chernihiv, Ukraine
At the hospital he was reunited with friends and relatives after being held captive by Russian soldiers for almost four months
The men, who were part of the Azoz military unit captured after the battle in Mariupol, lasted almost four months in Russian prison camps likened to concentration camps.
Hardline Kremlin supporters have been calling for the execution of the members of Azoz, calling them Nazis and war criminals.
In a shock move, however, the soldiers were confirmed safe and were seen for the first time since their heroic last defence of Mariupol back in May.
Dianov as well as his commander Denis Prokopenko, his deputy Svyatoslav Palamar, and Marine commander Serhiy Volynsky were confirmed safe.
Also pictured was Kateryna ‘Birdie’ Polishchuk, a medic whose singing inside the Azovstal steel works inspired a nation
Andriy Yermak, a top adviser to President Zelensky, said more than one of the fighters was heavily pregnant. Olena Zelenska, the First Lady, declared it was ‘the day all of Ukraine was waiting for’.
In total, Russia agreed to release 215 Ukrainian prisoners, including the five Azov commanders and 10 foreign prisoners.
Sviatoslav Palamar, one of the officers of the Azov battalion who was last seen inside the Azovstal steel plant, smiles after being released from Russian captivity late last night
Ukraine said 205 of its citizens – including 100 from the Azov battalion – were among those traded for just 56 Russians, including Putin ally Viktor Medvedchuk
A member of the Ukrainian armed forces embraces one of the newly-freed prisoners last night, after Russia announced a surprise swap for members of its own armed forces
Among them were Shaun Pinner, 48, and Aiden Aslin, 28, two British nationals who were captured and handed a death sentence after joining the fight against Russia in Ukraine.
In return, Russia received just 56 of their soldiers who were being held captive.
Among the Russians released is Viktor Medvedchuk, Putin’s right-hand man in Ukraine, with President Zelensky saying he was exchanged for 200 Ukrainians.
Zelensky said the price was one worth paying, and that Medvedchuk had already provided spies with a lot of information.
According to Zelensky, many of those freed belonged to Ukraine’s Azov regiment, whom he called heroes.
In mid-May, more than 2,000 defenders, many in the Azov unit, marched out of the Azovstal steel plant’s wreckage into Russian captivity, ending the siege of the port city of Mariupol.
Five of the released Azov commanders are now living in Turkey, according to a post on Zelensky’s website
Mr Pinner and Mr Aslin released a video following their release to confirm that they were ‘out of the danger zone’.
The pair, as well as the other three Brits, were reunited with their families.
Mr Pinner’s sister Cassandra told the MailOnline: ‘We are just relieved that he is home safe and sound, there are no words to express how thankful we are.
‘He is in good spirits, he is still his funny self, even at this difficult time. Health-wise, he is surprisingly very well too.’
Tired and smiling, ex-British Army soldier Mr Pinner (second from right) was finally reunited with his family back in the UK on Thursday following months of detention in Ukraine
Aiden Aslin arrives back at his home in Balderton, Newark, on Thursday after being released by Russian-back separatists following months in detention
Aiden Aslin (left) and Shaun Pinner (right) and Moroccan Saaudun Brahim (centre) pictured during a sentencing hearing in the so-called Supreme Court of the self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic
Meanwhile, Mr Aslin spoke of his ‘traumatic experience’ as he was reunited with family back at home in Balderton, Nottinghamshire, on Thursday.
He arrived from Heathrow Airport in a silver Mitsubishi ASX with a Ukraine sticker on the back bumper at around 2.20pm. After getting out of the vehicle with family members he then went inside to be reunited with his ‘overjoyed’ mother Ang Wood.
Speaking on his doorstep, Aiden said: ‘Me and my family want privacy after the traumatic experience. Please respect this and when I’m ready to talk to the media I will.’
Two US military veterans — Alexander Drueke, 39, and Andy Huynh, 27 — were also both freed thanks to the prisoner exchange.
UK Prime Minister Liz Truss said: ‘Hugely welcome news that five British nationals held by Russian-backed proxies in eastern Ukraine are being safely returned, ending months of uncertainty and suffering for them and their families.’
Earlier this week, Putin also threatened the West with nuclear weapons over Ukraine, after he announced plans to annex occupied parts of its territory to the Russian mainland.
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