Ukrainian Presidential Press Service via Agence France-Presse Ukrainian soldiers released in prisoner of war exchange with Russia on Wednesday
Russia and Ukraine announced on Wednesday that they had exchanged more than 230 prisoners of war, a first officially in several months, in the midst of an escalation of strikes carried out by these two countries.
“Following a complex negotiation process, 248 Russian servicemen were repatriated from territory controlled by the Kiev regime,” the Russian Defense Ministry said in a statement on Telegram.
“More than 200 of our soldiers and civilians have returned from Russian captivity,” announced Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky.
According to Ukrainian Human Rights Commissioner Dmytro Loubinets, exactly 230 Ukrainian military personnel have been exchanged in this “49th exchange” between Kiev and Moscow since the Russian assault began in February 2022.
This is “the largest in terms of the number of [Ukrainian] defenders repatriated,” said the Ukrainian POW Coordination Center.
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In total since February 24, 2022, “2828 [Ukrainian] defenders have returned home! », said Mr. Loubinets on Wednesday.
According to Ukrainian media, the previous exchange of prisoners of war dates back to last August.
The one announced on Wednesday comes in the midst of an intensification of violence between Russians and Ukrainians in recent days, with strikes from both sides which have left dozens of civilians dead and injured.
According to kyiv and Moscow, the exchange was made possible by mediation from the United Arab Emirates, an important partner of Russia in several humanitarian, economic and energy issues.
At the end of November, Dmytro Loubinets nevertheless accused Russia of blocking any exchange of prisoners of war. “The exchanges are not taking place because Russia does not want them,” he lamented.
Last August, the Human Rights Commissioner said that Ukraine had managed to recover nearly 2,600 of its citizens taken prisoner since the start of the Russian offensive.
There would still be thousands of prisoners of war on both sides.
In recent months, Moscow has increased the number of trials to impose very heavy sentences on Ukrainian prisoners of war.