First Prisoner Exchange Between Russia and Ukraine Since Plane Crash Completed

First Prisoner Exchange Between Russia and Ukraine Since Plane Crash Completed

Russia and Ukraine have successfully completed their first prisoner exchange since the recent plane crash. The exchange involved hundreds of prisoners of war, with each side receiving 195 soldiers back. The Russian Ministry of Defence has stated that their soldiers will be flown to Moscow for medical and psychological treatment.

The negotiation process that led to the exchange was facilitated with the assistance of the United Arab Emirates. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy confirmed the swap on his official account, stating that 207 Ukrainians had been returned. He emphasized that their people will be brought home regardless of the circumstances.

This exchange marked the 50th of its kind for Ukraine’s governmental body in charge of POWs. The released soldiers included those involved in the defense of Mariupol and Kherson, as well as those captured on Snake Island in the Black Sea. Among the returning prisoners were marines and combat medics, with 36 of them requiring medical attention due to injuries or serious illnesses.

Despite the ongoing conflict between the two countries, periodic exchanges of prisoners have taken place via intermediaries. The previous largest exchange occurred on January 3, with a total of 478 captives being traded thanks to mediation by the UAE.

The recent plane crash on January 24 raised doubts about the future of prisoner exchanges. Moscow claims that Ukrainian soldiers being transported for the swap were killed when the plane was shot down by Kyiv’s forces. While Kyiv has not directly refuted this claim, they have questioned the presence of captured Ukrainian soldiers on board.

Russian President Vladimir Putin, in a televised appearance, asserted that the military cargo plane was shot down by an American Patriot system. This claim adds a new dimension to the ongoing conflict between Russia and Ukraine.

Overall, this prisoner exchange marks an important step forward in the relations between Russia and Ukraine, offering hope for future peace talks and reconciliation.


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