Ukraine and Russia swap hundreds of prisoners

The prisoner swap had the collaboration of UAE, praised by both Ukraine and Russia.

A large-scale prisoner swap took place between Ukraine and Russia, as part of the ongoing war between the two countries and amid escalation rethorics and denounces involving both sides, Ukraine and Russia.

According to Ukrainian officials, 230 prisoners were released by Russia, among them members of the military and the border guard.

Ukraine, in return, handed over 248 Russians in the exchange, which was facilitated by the United Arab Emirates.

This was the first major prisoner swap since August of last year.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky announced the news on social media, saying: “Today, we brought back over 200 warriors and civilians from Russian captivity. Our people are home.”

The Russian Ministry of Defence acknowledged the swap, but said the talks were “difficult”.

The two countries have carried out several prisoner exchanges since the outbreak of the full-scale war in February 2022, but Zelensky said last month that Russia had been delaying the process for its own “very specific reasons”.

Both Russian and Ukrainian officials shared images and videos of the prisoner releases. A video from Moscow showed some of the Russians who were freed smiling on a bus.

Among the Ukrainians who were liberated were seven soldiers who defended Snake Island, a small island in the Black Sea.

The island became a symbol when a border guard stationed there refused to give up to the Russian warship Mosvka, shortly after the invasion began.

Other Ukrainians who were freed included National Guardsmen who were captured at the Chernobyl exclusion zone and soldiers who were taken prisoner during the fight for the Azovstal steel plant in Mariupol. Kyiv said six civilians were also released.

Both countries expressed their gratitude to the United Arab Emirates for its role in brokering the deal.

Ukraine said it had previously freed 2,598 people from Russian captivity in 48 swaps.

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