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Russia, Ukraine swap hundreds of prisoners — largest release since beginning of war

Russia, Ukraine swap hundreds of prisoners — largest release since beginning of war
January 04
09:05 2024

In a record-breaking move, Russia and Ukraine have announced a mutual release of hundreds of prisoners of war (POWs).

Confirming the swap on Wednesday via X, Volodymyr Zelensky, Ukrainian president, said 230 people were released.

“Today, 213 soldiers and sergeants, 11 officers, and 6 civilians returned home. I am grateful to everyone who achieved this result,” Zelensky said.

“We remember each and every one of our people. And we must return all of them.”

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Russia’s defence ministry said 248 servicemen have also been freed.

This is the biggest exchange between the two countries since the start of the conflict nearly two years ago, and the first one in months.

According to officials from both sides, the deal was brokered by the United Arab Emirates (UAE), a country that has maintained neutrality in the ongoing war.

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The UAE ministry of foreign affairs said the success of “the mediation efforts was a reflection of the close friendship between the UAE and the Republics of the Russian Federation and Ukraine, which were supported by regular contacts at the highest levels”.

The ministry said the UAE remains committed to efforts aimed at finding a peaceful solution to the conflict in Ukraine.

UAE added that it would continue with calls for diplomacy, dialogue and de-escalation; and would endeavour to support all initiatives aimed at mitigating the humanitarian repercussions of the crisis.

The exchange, a rare example of accord between the Russian and Ukrainian governments, came against the backdrop of an escalating cycle of air assaults between the two countries.

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Last week, Russia fired one of its biggest missile strikes at Ukraine, killing dozens of people and wounding hundreds.

Ukraine’s defence ministry vowed that the “terrorists” would be punished.

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