- Ukraine and Russian-backed separatist republics held a prisoner exchange for the first time in over a year on Wednesday.
- Ukraine handed over 237 prisoners, while the two Russian-backed republics handed over 74 Ukrainian prisoners.
- Ukraine was supposed to hand over 306 prisoners, but 29 refused to go home during the exchange, and about 40 more who had been released from prison didn’t even show up.
Nearly 30 Russian-backed separatist prisoners refused to go home during a prisoner swap with Ukraine on Wednesday, according to the Kyiv Post.
Ukraine handed over 237 prisoners, while the two Russian-backed republics – the so-called Donetsk People’s Republic and Luhansk People’s Republic – handed over 74 Ukrainian prisoners, the Kyiv Post reported.
The war in eastern Ukraine between Kiev and Russian-backed republics, which has killed more than 10,000 people and wounded more than 24,000, will turn four years old in April 2018.
An additional 40 Russian-backed separatist prisoners who had served their sentences didn’t even show up for the prisoner exchange, the Kyiv Post reported, which was the first exchange in over a year.
The prisoners exchanged were a mix of soldiers and political prisoners, according to Hromadske, including two Luhansk soccer fans imprisoned for allegedly spying for Kiev and a pro-Ukraine blogger who had been charged with treason and espionage.
There are still about 386 Russian-backed separatist prisoners being held by Kiev, and about 94 Ukrainian prisoners being held by the Russian-backed republics, the Kyiv Post reported.
Despite cooperation between the two sides during the exchange, tensions and fighting have increased lately.
At least eight Ukrainian soldiers have been killed and 39 more have been wounded in the first 19 days of December, according to Liveuamap.com, not including the eight civilians wounded in Novoluhaske on December 18.
One Ukrainian soldier was also killed and five more were wounded in fighting on Tuesday, according to the Ukrainian Defence Ministry.
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