Biggest Prisoner Swap in Eastern Ukraine Crisis

30 December, 2017, 00:58 | Author: Brian Mcdaniel
  • Ukrainian forces and rebels exchange POWs as war grinds on

The Ukrainian leader greeted the prisoners who were released by the separatists in the town of Kramatorsk, hailing German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Emmanuel Macron for helping organize the swap. A series of truce deals has helped lower the level of violence, but did not end the bloodshed.

The exchange of prisoners was being carried out at a checkpoint near Horlivka, a city in the eastern Donetsk region.

The Office also expresses hope that all sides use this positive development to make progress on their remaining commitments under the Minsk Agreements, beginning with all sides adhering to the ceasefire; engaging cooperatively to reduce the humanitarian suffering of civilians on both sides of the line of contact; and Russian Federation withdrawing its weapons and personnel from eastern Ukraine.

The Ukrainian side released 233 rebels and their supporters, officials from both sides said.

The prisoners massed at the exchange point with their belongings, shivering in zero temperatures, before boarding buses after their names had been called out.

"I was in captivity for two years", said historian Igor Kozlovskiy, 63, who was captured by Donetsk rebels on suspicion of storing weapons. Viktor Medvedchuk is Ukraine's representative to ongoing peace talks. "Glory to our heroes".

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"It was a very exhausting and professional struggle for everyone", said Ukrainian president Petro Poroshenko. A ceasefire that was supposed to go into effect on 23rd of December was shattered within hours when a Ukrainian soldier was killed.

"I have just thanked our lads who are coming back from captivity. The exchange process is over", Ms Lutsenko said on Facebook.

Ukraine and pro-Russian separatist rebels conducted the largest exchange of prisoners since conflict broke out in 2014, sending hundreds of captives home to their families on Wednesday ahead of New Year and Orthodox Christmas, APA reports quoting Reuters.

The swap is in line with the so-called Minsk Protocol brokered by Germany and France in 2015.

The exchange is part of the so-called "Minsk agreement", a settlement roadmap signed in 2015 between Kiev and the self-proclaimed republics of Donetsk and Luhansk.

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