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Russia and Ukraine resume prisoner swaps after crash

Prisoners line up for lunch outside the Russian prisoner of war detention camp on Aug. 3, 2023, in the Lviv region, Ukraine. Hundreds of captured Russian POWs including conscripts, mercenaries, Wagner militia and Storm-Z Russian prisoners are being held in up to 50 sites around Ukraine. Storm-Z is a series of penal military units established by Russia since April 2023. (Paula Bronstein/Getty Images/TNS)
February 01, 2024

Russia and Ukraine swapped around 400 prisoners, renewing military exchanges a week after the downing of a plane that Moscow claimed was carrying detainees for transfer to Kyiv.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy said in an Instagram post Wednesday that 207 captives, both soldiers and civilians, were returned from Russia. Russia’s Defense Ministry said in a statement that it received 195 soldiers in exchange for 195 sent to Ukraine.

Zelenskiy’s statement didn’t clarify whether the returned prisoners had been part of the broader swap planned at the time the plane crashed in Russia’s Belgorod region on Jan. 24. Russia accused Ukraine of shooting down the plane that it said had 65 prisoners on board intended for exchange. Officials in Kyiv challenged this claim, saying Russia had provided no evidence.

Both Russia and Ukraine credited the United Arab Emirates for helping to mediate the latest prisoner swap.

Ukraine said it was the 50th exchange since Russia’s full-scale invasion in February 2022. Those returned from Russian captivity this time included service people taken prisoner during the defense of Mariupol and of Zmiinyi Island, also known as Snake Island.


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