Ukraine begins all-for-all prisoner swap with separatists
December 29, 2019 04:31 PM NPT
Men are escorted by servicemen of the self-proclaimed republics during the exchange of prisoners of war (POWs) between Ukraine and the separatist republics near the Mayorsk crossing point in Donetsk region, Ukraine December 29, 2019. REUTERS/Alexander Ermochenko
KIEV/MOSCOW, DEC 29: Ukrainian government forces and pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine have started an all-for-all prisoner swap, after which all remaining prisoners of the five-year conflict should return home, the office of Ukraine’s president said on Sunday.
The agreement was concluded by Russian leader Vladimir Putin and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy in Paris in December.
The swap is taking place at a checkpoint near the industrial town of Horlivka in the Donetsk region.
Russia’s RIA news agency, citing a local official from the self-declared Donetsk People’s Republic, said Kiev would hand over 87 separatists, while Donetsk would return 55 pro-central government fighters.
Kiev’s forces have been battling separatists in the Donbass region of eastern Ukraine since 2014 in a conflict that has claimed more than 13,000 lives. Sporadic fighting continues despite a ceasefire agreement.
There have been several prisoner exchanges between Kiev and rebels. In the last swap, conducted in December 2017, Ukraine handed over about 300 captives to pro-Russian separatists and took back around 70.