Ukraine, eastern rebels swap prisoners in move to end war

Ukraine, eastern rebels swap prisoners in move to end war

"Kiev and Donbass have agreed on the date of the prisoner exchange based on the principle of "all identified for all identified".

The total number of people freed was not immediately known, though authorities said earlier that 142 were expected to be involved in the exchange - 55 released by the rebels and 87 by Ukraine.

It also comes weeks after leaders from France, Germany, Russia, and Ukraine agreed at a peace summit in Paris to push for a full ceasefire and a new troop disengagement by March 2020.

It was previously announced that some of the prisoners Kyiv has handed over are riot policemen suspected of killing protesters during a pro-Western uprising in 2014.

The prisoner exchange is overseen by officials from the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) and the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE).

Sivokho noted that the Ukrainian side expected to get 80 people released by agreement, but four of them remained in the occupied territory due to their families.

Earlier on Sunday the two sides were seen preparing to exchange prisoners, with vehicles arriving near the village of Odradivka, about six miles (10km) from the self-proclaimed Donetsk People's Republic, according to AFP.

The office of Ukraine's president said that 76 former pro-government detainees had returned home. As part of that exchange, Russian Federation released filmmaker Oleg Sentsov and 24 Ukrainian sailors.

More than 13,000 people have been killed since pro-Russia militias in eastern Ukraine launched a bid for independence in 2014 - kicking off a conflict that deepened Russia's estrangement from the West.

Since coming to power in May, comedian-turned-president Zelensky, 41, has sought to revive a peace process to end the separatist conflict.

But prospects for peace are still troubled by questions over allowing local elections that would ensure the rebel regions more autonomy and about Ukraine regaining control of its border with Russian Federation in the rebel areas.

The Kremlin has sent signals that it is ready to work with Zelenskyy, whom Putin has described as "likeable".

But there was no sign of warmth between the Ukraine and Russian leaders in Paris and many doubt whether Putin genuinely wants to settle the conflict.

He claimed that Zelenskyy was not powerful enough to rein in Ukrainian nationalists.

Ties between Ukraine and Russian Federation were shredded after the 2014 bloody uprising overthrew a Kremlin-backed government. Russia's annexation of the Crimean Peninsula soon followed.

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