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                        THURSDAY, MAY 28, 2020
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Ukraine, Russia to carry out prisoner swap
Journal Staff Report

KYIV, Dec. 23 - Ukraine and Russian-backed separatists said on Monday they would carry out a prisoner exchange by the end of the year, following high-profile peace talks in Paris, AFP reported.

The announcement came after Russian leader Vladimir Putin and Ukrainian counterpart Volodymyr Zelenskiy held their first face-to-face talks this month and agreed upon measures to de-escalate the conflict.

The swap will center on detainees held by Kyiv and separatists, three months after Ukraine carried out a long-awaited swap with Russia of 35 prisoners each.

More than 13,000 people have been killed and one million have fled their homes since pro-Russia militias in eastern Ukraine launched a bid for independence in 2014 - kicking off a conflict that deepened Russia's estrangement from the West.

"An agreement has been reached on the mutual release of detainees by the end of the year," Darka Olifer, spokeswoman for former president Leonid Kuchma, said on Facebook.

Separatist official Darya Morozova said that lists of prisoners were still being agreed.

Moscow representative Boris Gryzlov confirmed to reporters that the sides had managed to agree "the necessary conditions" for the swap but did not say what they were.

OSCE Special Representative Martin Sajdik confirmed that preparations for the swap were under way.

At the Paris summit, the leaders of France, Germany, Russia and Ukraine agreed to implement a full ceasefire and proceed with a new withdrawal of forces from conflict zones by March 2020.

French President Emmanuel Macron said at the time a new summit would be held in four months to take stock of progress on ending the conflict. (afp/ez)




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