The Ukrainian military and pro-Russian separatists exchanged 19 prisoners. The Ukrainian President Selenskyj recently called for peace by the end of the year.
Government troops and pro-Russian separatists have started an exchange of prisoners in eastern Ukraine. As reported by the Presidential Office in Kyiv, nine Ukrainian citizens are released by the insurgents. The separatists confirmed that they had received ten prisoners from Ukraine. Ukrainian media previously spoke of nine people, one of whom is said to have refused to surrender. Because of the coronavirus pandemic, all those released must be quarantined for 14 days.
“The current release shows the effectiveness of the strategy in accordance with the agreements reached during the Normandy Summit in December 2019,” said the Presidential Office in Kyiv. There are also further negotiations to release Ukrainians who are being held in Russia and Crimea.
It is the first prisoner exchange between the conflicting parties this year and the third since Ukrainian President Volodymyr Selenskyj took office in May 2019. He had dealt with the procedure with Russian President Vladimir Putin in December at a meeting in the so-called Normandy format, i.e. through mediation Germany and France, agreed.
At the end of December, a major prisoner exchange followed, in which almost 200 prisoners from both sides were released. However, he caused some resentment in Ukraine, as there were convicted terrorists among the prisoners who had been handed over to the separatists.
There were also shooters from the Berkut special operations unit, which is said to have shot protesters on the Maidan in 2014. The lawsuit against them was terminated shortly before the exchange. According to Selensky, the handover of the Berkut agents had been a condition for Russia’s exchange.