Russia and Ukraine Agree to Large-Scale Prisoner Exchange
Russia and Ukraine recently agreed to a large-scale prisoner exchange, with almost 180 soldiers set to be released.
The agreement is the latest step towards ending the conflict between the two countries. The conflict began in 2014, when Russia annexed Crimea and supported rebellion in other parts of Ukraine.
The prisoner exchange took place at the Belarus-Ukraine border. Russian officials reportedly handed over 76 Ukrainians in exchange for 55 Russians plus 32 citizens of other states.
The release of the prisoners is viewed as a hopeful sign for improved relations between the two countries. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky commented after the exchange that he hopes “we will always manage to find a humanity in any situation and any relations.”
The prisoner exchange is the largest of its kind since 2017, and has been welcomed by United Nations Secretary General António Guterres. In a statement, Guterres welcomed the exchange as a “positive step for ending the conflict that has killed 14,000 people and uprooted 1.5 million others since 2014.”
Russia’s representative in the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) also commented. Alexander Lukashevich said that the exchange “may be a strong signal for implementation of the Minsk agreements.”
Although the prisoner exchange signals a potential improvement in relations between the two countries, some are still wary. United States Ambassador to Ukraine Kristina Kvien commented that the exchange does not mean “a complete end of war rhetoric”.
Only time will tell whether the exchange is a tangible step towards peace between Russia and Ukraine.