This article was originally published by Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty and is reprinted with permission.
Moscow and Kyiv exchanged some 50 prisoners of war from each side on November 24, according to presidential and defense officials, one day after dozens were returned in another swap.
The head of the Ukrainian presidential office, Andriy Yermak, confirmed the latest swap for the Ukrainian side.
He said 20 National Guardsmen, 10 army troops, 12 marines, six border guards, and two defense fighters had been returned. Yermak said 19 of them were among those captured after a weekslong siege by Russian forces of the Azovstal metalworks, 15 had been taken captive at the former Chernobyl nuclear power plant, and seven had been taken prisoner at Snake Island.
Russia’s Defense Ministry and the head of the Russia-backed separatists in the Donetsk region, Denis Pushilin, confirmed that Ukrainian forces had handed over an equal number of prisoners to the Russian side.
“The released military personnel will be delivered to Moscow by aircraft of the military transport aviation of the Russian Aerospace Forces for treatment and rehabilitation at medical institutions of the Russian Defense Ministry,” the ministry said in a statement.
The November 24 exchange comes one day after another swap of prisoners in which 36 individuals — 35 military and one civilian — were returned to Ukraine and 35 Russian soldiers were repatriated.
Representatives from Russia and Ukraine were said to have met in the United Arab Emirates last week to discuss the possibility of a prisoner-of-war swap that was reportedly linked to a resumption of Russian ammonia exports to Asia and Africa via a Ukrainian pipeline.
Reuters quoted sources saying the talks were being mediated by the Gulf Arab state and did not include the United Nations despite the UN’s central role in negotiating the ongoing initiative to export agricultural products from three Ukrainian Black Sea ports.
Both sides maintain secrecy around the number of captured troops since Russia’s unprovoked full-scale invasion began on February 24.