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Ukraine, Russia swap POWs in first deal in months

France says Western troops in Ukraine possible without breaching 'belligerence threshold'
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Russia and Ukraine said Wednesday that they had swapped hundreds of captive soldiers, their first publicly announced prisoner of war exchange in almost five months.

The two sides have carried out dozens of exchanges throughout Moscow’s 22-month long invasion, but the process stalled in the latter half of last year.

In almost simultaneous statements, the Russian defence ministry and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky announced they had received over 200 soldiers each.

“More than 200 of our soldiers and civilians have been returned from Russian captivity,” Zelensky said on Telegram, posting a video of uniformed men celebrating.

Ukraine’s human rights ombudsman Dmytro Lubinets said 230 Ukrainian soldiers had been released in total, marking what he said was the 49th exchange between the two sides.

Moscow’s defence ministry said 248 of its soldiers had been returned in a deal that came about after “complex” negotiations mediated by the United Arab Emirates.

Neither side discloses how many prisoners are in their custody.

Among the Ukrainian soldiers released were 66 from the city of Mariupol, which fell to Russian forces in May 2022, an official who took part in the negotiations told AFP.

Dozens of Ukrainian soldiers who fought in Mariupol have been tried by Russia for war crimes, in court proceedings denounced by Ukraine and rights groups as illegal.


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Agence France-Presse (AFP) is a French international news agency headquartered in Paris, France. Founded in 1835 as Havas, it is the world's oldest news agency.

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