Planning new prisoner swaps with Ukraine: Russia

AFP Kiev, Ukraine Dec 31, 2019, 07.18 PM(IST)

file photo Photograph:( Reuters )

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Zelensky said on Sunday that Kiev is working on returning those detained in Crimea, without elaborating on numbers

Ukraine and Russia are working towards a new prisoner exchange, just two days after swapping 200 captives, Kiev said Tuesday after leaders Vladimir Putin and Volodymyr Zelensky spoke on the phone.

The two countries "agreed to immediately start agreeing on lists (of names) for freeing Ukrainians, including Crimeans, who are in Crimea and in Russia, as well as Russians in Ukraine," the Ukrainian presidency said in a statement.

The news comes after a massive exchange of prisoners on Sunday, with 12 Ukrainian soldiers and 64 civilians flown to Kiev.

Ukraine also handed over people in its custody to pro-Russian separatists, including five riot policemen suspected of shooting protesters during a pro-Western uprising in 2014.

Zelensky said on Sunday that Kiev is working on returning those detained in Crimea, without elaborating on numbers.

Moscow annexed the Crimean peninsula in 2014, shortly after the Maidan uprising ousted pro-Moscow president Viktor Yanukovych.

The Kremlin, which also provided a readout of the phone call on Tuesday, remarked on the "positive" Sunday exchange but made no mention of any similar swap being planned.

Exchanging prisoners resumed following face-to-face talks between Putin and Zelensky in Paris on December 9, in a European-mediated summit aimed at de-escalating the continent's only active war.

The conflict was sparked in 2014 in eastern Ukraine between Kiev and pro-Russian separatists following the annexation of Crimea and has led to the deaths of more than 13,000 people.