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Ukraine crisis: Prisoner exchange begins

Ukraine crisis: Prisoner exchange begins

The date for the exchange was finally set for December 27 on Monday, after Russia's Patriarch Kirill met with the leaders of the breakaway Donetsk and Lugansk People's Republics, Aleksandr Zakharchenko and Leonid Pasechnik, as well as Medvedchuk.

Last week, the signatories recommitted to the ceasefire, only for it to be broken within days.

"My son rang", the mother of a Ukrainian prisoner Oleksandr Oliynyk told the Ukrainian news channel 112.

She told a Ukrainian news channel, "You can not imagine what it means for a mother, to not see your child for three-and-a-half years, since August 2014".

Ukrainian authorities are transferring more than 260 people back to rebel-held areas, in return for some 70 prisoners who have been held by pro-Russia rebels in the Donetsk and Luhansk regions.

"Nothing is more important than to bring our people home", said Ukraine's president, Petro Poroshenko. A Ukrainian soldier was shot on Saturday.

Ukraine Prisoner Exchange
Ukraine, separatist rebels swap more than 300 prisoners ahead of New Year

The Office also expresses hope that all sides use this positive development to make progress on their remaining commitments under the Minsk Agreements, beginning with all sides adhering to the ceasefire; engaging cooperatively to reduce the humanitarian suffering of civilians on both sides of the line of contact; and Russian Federation withdrawing its weapons and personnel from eastern Ukraine.

Donald Trump's decision to arm Ukraine was criticised by Russian officials, who said it would derail peace efforts and lead to further loss of life. Twenty people who had been held in Ukrainian government custody refused to return to pro-Russia breakaway regions, Kiev said. Moscow has denied the charge. He said after his release in Horlivka that he would join the Ukrainian military again.

The swap is in line with the so-called Minsk Protocol brokered by Germany and France in 2015.

Larisa Sargan, a spokesperson for the country's prosecutor general's office, said on Facebook that one of the prisoners released by the separatists said she would stay in Donetsk. Jill Robbins adapted it for Learning English.

Merkel and Macron emphasized that the prisoner exchange and a renewed commitment to a comprehensive ceasefire "should also serve to build up confidence between the parties to the conflict, also with a view to the full implementation of the Minsk agreements".

Serena returns in Abu Dhabifront
American tennis idol Serena Williams will soon return to action after nearly a year of absence due to maternity leave. The Latvian said: "It is a huge honour to be part of that history".


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