The Ukrainian government has agreed to release over two dozen prisoners it captured during the fighting in the country’s east in an effort to set the stage for prisoner swap with the pro-Russia forces active in the restive region.
“Ukraine is handing over 15 people on a list of 228 people… in order to unblock the process of freeing the hostages,” lawmaker Iryna Gerashchenko, who oversees humanitarian issues at truce talks, told reporters on Thursday.
Some of the 15 are seriously ill or elderly, and six of them are women, she said.
“This is a gesture of humanism and goodwill,” she later said in a Facebook post, adding that Kiev demanded the release of all prisoners held by pro-Russians in the country’s east.
Ukraine claims more than a hundred servicemen are being held by pro-Moscow forces in the mainly Russian-speaking regions of Donetsk and Lugansk.
The last prisoner swap between Ukraine and pro-Russia forces took place in September when two government forces were exchanged for four pro-Russia forces.
Gerashchenko further said the prisoners will return home ahead of the next round of peace talks, which are scheduled to resume in the Belorussian capital of Minsk next week.
The peace talks aim to bring an end to the conflict which has claimed some 10,000 lives since 2014.
Donetsk and Lugansk have been the scene of deadly clashes since the Ukrainian army launched its military operations in April 2014 to crush protests there.
The Russian-speaking regions in eastern Ukraine demand greater autonomy from Kiev.
Kiev and its Western allies claim Moscow is the fueling the crisis in eastern Ukraine, but the Kremlin rejects the accusation.
H/t reader squodgy:
“Positive news prima facie.
Just hope it’s not a trap. The seers point to the Balkans as the spark point for WWlll, so it’s advisable to check to ensure the jew warmonger Victoria Nuland (Nudelman) isn’t somehow moving in the shadows. She is even more untrustworthy than Killary.”
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