More than 500 bodies of fallen defenders already returned to Ukraine

The Ukrainian Temporarily Occupied Territories Reintegration Ministry has already managed to return 541 bodies of the fallen defenders to Ukraine.

The relevant statement was made by Commissioner on Persons Gone Missing Oleh Kotenko, an Ukrinform correspondent reports, referring to the ministry’s press service.

According to Kotenko, the Ukrainian Temporarily Occupied Territories Reintegration Ministry is continuously working to bring back the bodies of Ukrainian servicemen. With the establishment of the Commissioner’s Office in late May 2022, this process accelerated.

“Through the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), communication with the Russian side has been established. Holding talks with the aggressor is difficult, but we have already managed to bring back 541 bodies of the fallen defenders. A total of 428 bodies were transported from Mariupol, and over 300 of them are those of the Azovstal defenders. We are bringing back the bodies of the fallen from such directions as Donetsk, Zaporizhzhia, Kherson, Kharkiv, Luhansk, from everywhere,” Kotenko told.

In his words, communication with the enemy is the most challenging in this regard.

“We hand over the locations to the Russian side, where our dead are. They need to take them, and then we exchange the bodies,” Kotenko said, adding that not always Russian representatives want to enter the area of hostilities, even though the ceasefire regime is announced.

Kotenko stressed that the ministry held regular meetings with the relatives of the fallen Ukrainian defenders or those who had gone missing. More than 20 meetings have already taken place.

According to Kotenko, sometimes it is difficult to explain those who have lost their loved ones, why it takes them a long time to bring their bodies back.

Kotenko urged people not to read the propagandist resources but trust the official Ukrainian sources, as well as contact the ministry if they cannot reach their relatives, and they will receive the necessary aid.