Monday, June 18, 2018
   
Text Size

Site Search powered by Ajax

Ukraine, pro-Russian rebels swap hundreds of prisoners

The swap of Ukrainian soldiers for Russia-backed separatists is the largest since the Ukraine conflict began in 2014.

The prisoners

Ukraine and Russia-backed separatists have conducted a mass prisoner swap, marking the largest such deal since the armed conflict in eastern Ukraine broke out in 2014.

The captives - who include activists and journalists - were exchanged on Wednesday near the town of Horlivka, northeast of Donetsk.

Under the terms of the agreement, 74 Ukrainian soldiers were expected to be swapped for 306 pro-Russian separatists.

However, Ukraine handed over some 235 people - the others either chose to stay in Ukraine or had been released earlier, according to Ukrainian officials.

"All 74 Ukrainian hostages are already at home, on the territory controlled by our army," Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko wrote on Twitter.

This is the first prisoner swap in eastern Ukraine since September 2016.

In Horlivka, dozens of family members eagerly awaited the return of their loved ones.

"The first thing I'll say to my husband is that your time in prison has not been in vain and, of course, I love you," Natalya Gerasimenko, wife of Mykola Gerasimenko, a driver in the Ukrainian army who was detained by pro-Russian forces for almost three years, said.

'Step in right direction'

The exchange came after months of negotiations and was jeopardised on several occasions.

The swap is in line with the so-called Minsk agreements brokered by Germany and France and signed by Russia and Ukraine in 2015.

They call, among other things, for a ceasefire; the withdrawal of heavy weapons 15km on either side of the front line; and constitutional reform to give eastern Ukraine more autonomy.

Yet, deadly fighting has continued, with both sides blaming each other for truce breaches and stalled progress towards any political solution.

The conflict in Ukraine began in 2014, when pro-Russian separatists took over parts of eastern Ukraine's Donbass region, which is composed of the Donetsk and Luhansk provinces.

Russia also annexed the Crimean peninsula from Ukraine a few months earlier.

About 10,000 people, including at least 2,000 civilians, have been killed since the fighting began, while another 1.7 million people have been forced to flee their homes.

However, there is no concrete end to the conflict in sight.

"While people are still dying, while Moscow is still supplying the rebel regions with weapons and hardware," our correspondent said, adding that the prisoner swap "is just a step in the right direction"..


blog comments powered by Disqus

Subscribe via RSS or Email:

Greece and Macedonia sign agreement on name change

Read More

Greek PM Tsipras survives no confidence vote over Macedonia deal

Read More

UK returns confiscated medical cannabis to epileptic boy

Read More

Court orders Denmark to compensate 18 Iraqis over torture

Read More

Italy, France call for refugee processing centres in Africa

Read More

Suspect arrested over UK 'Punish a Muslim' letters

Read More

Global_News

Ankara says 'independent patrol' missions by Turkish and US forces under way, part of roadmap agreed by both countries.

Read More

Donation

Thanks to all of our supporters for your generosity and your encouragement of an independent press!

Enter Amount:

Featured_Author

Login






Login reminder Forgot login?

Subscribe to MWC News Alert

Email Address

Subscribe in a reader Facebok page Twitter page

Week in Pictures

Ramadan begins

2018 World Cup