The exchange of prisoners on the eve of the New Year holidays and Orthodox Christmas became the “long-awaited gesture of humanism,” say the German Chancellor and the French President. Putin gave a “positive assessment” to the exchange.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Emmanuel Macron welcome the exchange of prisoners in eastern Ukraine, the statement published on the German government website on Sunday, December 29, reads.
According to the leaders of Germany and France, today’s swap on the eve of the New Year and Orthodox Christmas celebrations has become a “humanitarian gesture that has been awaited for long”, which can “help rebuild trust between the two sides.” This gesture should be accompanied by a complete ceasefire in accordance with the agreement reached within the “Normandy Summit”, the report says.
In preparation for the next summit, where, among other things, political requirements and security issues at local elections in eastern Ukraine will be discussed, Germany and France will continue their efforts in conflict resolution within the Normandy format framework.
Putin gave a “positive assessment” of the prisoner exchange
On the same day, a telephone conversation took place between Angela Merkel and Russian President Vladimir Putin. As follows from a message published on the Kremlin’s website, Putin gave a “positive assessment” of the prisoner exchange according to the all-identified-for-all-identified scheme that took place today in Donbass.
In addition, it is reported that Merkel and Putin discussed the situation in Syria and Libya, as well as issues of cooperation in the gas sector, including “further support” for the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline construction.
Exchange of prisoners in Donbass completed
The procedure for the exchange of detainees was carried out on December 29 in the area of the Mayorskoye entry-exit checkpoint on the demarcation line in Donetsk region. The presidential administration of Ukraine said that 76 people were returned to Kiev. The self-proclaimed “republics” of Donbass ascertained the return of 124 people.
Presidents of Russia and Ukraine Vladimir Putin and Vladimir Zelensky agreed to exchange the prisoners in early December in Paris, during the Normandy summit for Donbass conflict resolution.
The last large-scale prisoner swap between Russia and Ukraine took place in September 2019. Each side released 35 detainees, including the Ukrainian director Oleg Sentsov, who in August 2015 was sentenced in Russia to 20 years in prison on charges of creating a terrorist community on the territory of the Crimean peninsula annexed by the Russian Federation, and sailors from three military vessels captured in the Kerch Strait.
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