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3 Jan, 2024 16:10

Russia and Ukraine conduct major New Year’s prisoner exchange

The United Arab Emirates mediated the release of almost 250 Russian servicemen
Russia and Ukraine conduct major New Year’s prisoner exchange

The Russian Defense Ministry announced on Wednesday that 248 of its service members have been released from Ukrainian captivity. Kiev has claimed that 230 of its personnel have been exchanged with Moscow.

The swap of captured personnel was the result of a “complex negotiation process” facilitated by the “humanitarian mediation” of the United Arab Emirates, the Russian military said.

The freed captives are being provided with medical and psychological assistance, and will be transported home by Russia's Aerospace Forces, for treatment and rehabilitation in military medical facilities.

Shortly after the Russian announcement, Ukrainian President Vladimir Zelensky posted on his Telegram channel that “more than 200” Ukrainian servicemen have been released in exchange, later claiming the exact number was 230.

Neither side mentioned the other’s prisoners in their statements. 

Tuesday’s exchange was reportedly the largest of the entire conflict so far. The last public PoW swap was in early August 2023, and involved 22 soldiers from each side.

In an early December interview with AP, Zelensky said that small, local swaps continued to take place, claiming that Kiev had managed to retrieve about 100 personnel in this fashion.