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Russia and Ukraine exchange hundreds of prisoners of war

Photo: Danylo Pavlov Associated Press A recently exchanged Ukrainian prisoner of war cried at the Russian-Ukrainian border while calling his loved ones on Wednesday. Russia and Ukraine have exchanged around 200 prisoners of war each, despite current tensions.

Daria Andriievska – Agence France-Presse to kyiv

9:40 p.m.

  • Europe

Russia and Ukraine announced Wednesday that they had exchanged about 200 prisoners of war from each side, a week after the crash of a Russian military plane that Moscow said was carrying captive Ukrainian soldiers and was shot down by Kiev.

Russian President Vladimir Putin assured that the Ukrainian army had shot down the Il-76 aircraft with an American Patriot missile used by Kiev to intercept Russian missiles or aircraft.

For their part, Ukraine and its Western allies say they are still trying to obtain proof of Russian allegations.

On Wednesday, Moscow and kyiv announced one of the largest prisoner exchanges in two years of war. The Russian Defense Ministry said that “195 Russian troops” were exchanged for the same number of Ukrainian servicemen.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky welcomed the return of “207” of his fellow citizens. “Ours are at home,” he greeted, promising to bring home all captives, “combatants or civilians.”

Vladimir Putin also welcomed the operation, assuring that Moscow wanted to “repatriate” all its prisoners in the hands of kyiv.

This is the fiftieth exchange of this type, said the Ukrainian human rights commissioner, Dmytro Loubinets. According to him, a total of 3,035 Ukrainians have already been able to return home.

74 passengers

Last week, a Russian military plane crashed near the Ukrainian border in murky circumstances, killing all on board.

Russia has since assured that the Ukrainian army shot down the aircraft which, according to Moscow, was carrying 74 people, including 65 Ukrainian prisoners of war who were going to be exchanged.

On Wednesday, Vladimir Putin, for the first time, directly named the weapon used, according to him, by the Ukrainian army: “The plane was shot down, this has already been established with certainty by an American Patriot system. »

These anti-aircraft defense systems, delivered by the United States, are usually used to intercept Russian missiles, particularly so-called “hypersonic” ones.

Ukraine has not directly commented on its potential involvement, but has expressed doubts about the presence of its soldiers on board.

Twenty missiles

The exchange of prisoners announced on Wednesday comes as Moscow continues to put pressure on Ukrainian defenses, particularly in Donbass, around Avdiïvka, a hot spot in hostilities.

On Wednesday, Vladimir Putin claimed that his men were holding positions “on the outskirts” of this city.

For several months, Ukrainians and Russians have been clashing around this industrial city, at the cost of heavy losses, according to observers.

In an attempt to free themselves from Russian pressure, Ukrainian forces are increasingly targeting targets in Russia, with the aim of pushing the Russian army to redirect its equipment and men further away from the front .

On Wednesday evening, the Russian Defense Ministry claimed to have destroyed 20 missiles launched by Ukraine over the Black Sea and in Crimea, an annexed peninsula where “debris” fell.

Air defense “destroyed 17 Ukrainian missiles over the waters of the Black Sea, and three more over the Crimean Peninsula,” the ministry said.

Crimea, annexed by Russia in 2014, is a favored target of Ukraine, because it is very important for the logistics of the Russian army.

Diplomatically, in Washington, US Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen met with members of the European Commission and declared that “we cannot let Ukraine run out of money”, while the Congress is still discussing a new financial aid plan for the country at war.

“Ukraine’s survival is at stake,” recalled US Senator Chuck Schumer, leader of the Democratic majority in the Senate. “Ukraine will win the war against Russia if it gets more help from Congress. Otherwise, [Vladimir] Putin will win. »

In Brussels, the head of EU diplomacy, Josep Borrell, admitted on Wednesday that the Union will only be able to provide half of the million shells it had committed to delivering in Kiev by the end of March.

“We have already delivered 330,000 shells,” Mr. Borrell told the press after a meeting of EU defense ministers. “I expect this figure to increase by 200,000 shells” by the end of March, or “a little over 52% of the target” set last year, he added.

In Germany, Chancellor Olaf Scholz promised on Wednesday to want to “do everything” to increase EU military aid to Ukraine, on the eve of a crucial summit in Brussels on this subject.

Teilor Stone

By Teilor Stone

Teilor Stone has been a reporter on the news desk since 2013. Before that she wrote about young adolescence and family dynamics for Styles and was the legal affairs correspondent for the Metro desk. Before joining Thesaxon , Teilor Stone worked as a staff writer at the Village Voice and a freelancer for Newsday, The Wall Street Journal, GQ and Mirabella. To get in touch, contact me through my teilor@nizhtimes.com 1-800-268-7116