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31 Mar, 2023 09:10

Ukraine dragging feet on prisoner swap – official

The exchange list has grown to more than 130 names but Kiev remains silent, Russian ombudswoman Tatyana Moskalkova has said
Ukraine dragging feet on prisoner swap – official

Ukraine appears to be attempting to derail a potential prisoner swap with Moscow, Russian Human Rights Commissioner Tatyana Moskalkova claimed on Friday.

In a post on Telegram, Moskalkova said she was “extremely concerned that another prisoner exchange is being disrupted.” 

The commissioner stated she had received assurances around three weeks ago that 70 Ukrainian service members that Kiev did not initially want to swap “would be included in the list and repatriated,” but that not much progress had been made since.

“Time goes on, the list has been extended: now it has 133 names on it, but the Ukrainian side remains silent,” Moskalkova said. In a follow-up post, she published the full names and dates of birth of the service members in question.

In early March, Moskalkova said Kiev had refused to exchange as many as 70 of its soldiers. However, she later signaled that Ukraine had changed its stance, claiming that confirmation had been provided by her counterpart in Kiev, Dmitry Lubinets.

Moscow and Kiev have conducted regular prisoner exchanges since the outbreak of hostilities more than one year ago, and they remain one of the few functioning diplomatic channels between the pair.

On March 7, the Russian Ministry of Defense announced it had secured the release of 90 servicemen who had been in “mortal danger” while in captivity. Meanwhile, officials in Kiev said a total of 130 people had been returned to Ukraine.

Last week, Ukraine stated it had transferred an unspecified number of heavily wounded prisoners back to Russia without any conditions, in line with international humanitarian law. The Russian Ministry of Defense did not comment on the move, although Moskalkova confirmed five injured Russian service members had been repatriated.