Ukraine and Russia Announce Major Prisoner Swap

KYIV – Ukraine and Russia announced their first exchange of prisoners of war in nearly four months on Friday, resulting in the release of 150 individuals after negotiations mediated by the United Arab Emirates (UAE).

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy confirmed that 75 Ukrainian prisoners were returned from Russia, including four civilians and the rest military personnel. The swap was facilitated by the UAE, according to Russia’s Defence Ministry, which reported that Ukraine handed over 75 individuals as part of the deal, RIA news agency noted.

“After a long pause, another prisoner swap took place: 75 defenders and civilians were released from the enemy’s captivity,” stated Ukraine’s Coordinating Committee on Dealing with Prisoners of War.

Photographs accompanying the committee’s statement showed servicemen draped in blue and yellow national flags. Ukrainian officials highlighted that among the returned were 19 defenders of Snake Island, a tiny rocky outcrop in the Black Sea. Snake Island became a symbol of Ukrainian defiance early in the war when Ukrainian guards famously refused to surrender to Russian forces.

Additionally, the committee reported that Russia handed over the bodies of 212 Ukrainian defenders as part of the swap. This significant exchange marks a rare moment of negotiation between the two nations amidst ongoing conflict.