Ukraine is gathering the bodies of dead Russian soldiers strewn among the rubble of formerly occupied towns and using everything from DNA to tattoos to verify their identities in the hope of exchanging them for prisoners of war, APA reports citing Ukrinform.
Volunteers have helped the military gather 60 bodies in the northeastern region of Kharkiv where Russian forces have retreated in recent weeks, stacking them up in a refrigerated rail carriage.
Bodies are sometimes used as part of prisoner exchanges and other times in exchanges for Ukrainian bodies, said Anton Ivannikov, captain of military-civil cooperation branch, Ukrainian Armed Forces, which is coordinating the effort. The bodies of those related to high ranking officials can be especially valuable to an exchange.
"We are gathering all the documents, all the credit cards. Anything which would help us identify the body" including tattoos and DNA, Ivannikov said.
"In the future this will tell us which soldier, which brigade was in this region, for further exchange," he said.
The bodies will travel on the train to Kyiv where the team negotiating exchanges is based, he said.
The recovery effort has been made possible due to Ukraine's pushing of Russian forces from towns in the Kharkiv region - and largely out of artillery range of Kharkiv city, the second-largest in the country.