| 27 February 2024, Tuesday |

Ukraine says Russia to blame for months of no prisoner swaps

After three months with no confirmed prisoner swaps, Russia was accused by Ukraine’s human rights commissioner on Thursday of delaying to approve future exchanges.

Since the early months of Russia’s invasion in February 2022, Kyiv and Moscow have exchanged prisoners numerous times. However, in 2023, they became less intense, and the most recent one happened in early August.

“Exchanges don’t happen because Russia doesn’t want them to,” stated Dmytro Lubinets, a human rights ombudsman who has participated in prisoner swaps on a regular basis.

“All the initiatives, desires and actions of Ukraine regarding the return of our defenders from captivity are met by a Russian unwillingness to return its citizens,” he said on Telegram messenger.

He added that Russian prisoners held in Ukraine had expressed a wish to be exchanged.

“No one from the Russian side wants to take them back,” he said.

The Russian Defence Ministry did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

In November, the Ukrainian government said it had registered 3,574 Ukrainian military and 763 civilians taken into Russian or Moscow-backed separatists’ captivity since 2014.

The figure included those who have already returned to Ukraine, it said. However, it said the numbers did not show all the current prisoners.

  • Reuters