Ukraine and Russia declare the most extensive exchange of prisoners since the commencement of the conflict.

Both sides have released over 200 troops in the first exchange since August, following negotiations mediated by the United Arab Emirates (UAE).

Ukraine and Russia have announced the largest prisoner exchange since the start of the war, with more than 200 soldiers from each side being returned. This deal was facilitated by the UAE. Ukrainian president, Volodymyr Zelenskiy, stated in a social media post that 213 soldiers and sergeants, 11 officers, and six civilians had returned home. He also mentioned that some of the returned soldiers had fought in Mariupol and Azovstal, referring to the siege of the Azovstal steel plant during Ukraine’s defense of Mariupol, which is now occupied by Russia.

Russia’s defense ministry stated that 248 Russian prisoners of war had been returned from Ukraine due to “complex” negotiations with humanitarian mediation by the UAE. Abu Dhabi, which maintains friendly relations with Moscow, was also involved in a similar prisoner exchange between Russia and Ukraine last year.

The exchanges between Russia and Ukraine have become less frequent, with the last one occurring in early August. According to Ukraine’s human rights ombudsman, Dmytro Lubinets, 2,576 Ukrainians have been freed in prisoner swaps since the beginning of Russia’s invasion. However, over 4,000 Ukrainian service personnel are still believed to be in captivity in Russia, although the exact numbers on both sides remain unknown.

The prisoner swap follows several days of Russian airstrikes on Ukrainian cities, resulting in civilian casualties. Russian forces have also reported shooting down Ukrainian missiles over Russia’s Belgorod region, while tensions remain high in the capital of the region.

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