MOSCOW, December 22 (Sputnik) — Close upon 400 prisoners of war are currently held captive by Kiev, while about 600 detainees are held by militia in eastern Ukraine, said Vladimir Ruban, head of the Ukrainian prisoner exchange center.
“Up to 400 people are here in conditions of temporary isolation, detained by the Ukrainian side. From the other side we have an unconfirmed total of some 635 for whom there is at least some hope,” Ruban said on the Ukrainian Inter TV channel Sunday.
The Security Service of Ukraine has stated that it is willing to transfer 223 persons back to Donbas, he informed.
A Kiev-led military operation against Donbas independence supporters, launched in April, has resulted in months of bloodshed in Ukraine’s south-eastern regions. During negotiations in Minsk in September, brokered by Russia and the OSCE, the sides agreed on a truce and an all-for-all prisoner exchange. Several prisoner swaps have since taken place.
After reports of numerous ceasefire violations from both sides, Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko introduced a “silence regime” in eastern Ukraine on December 9. The announcement was to be shortly followed by a new round of Minsk negotiations but the talks have been repeatedly postponed.
On December 19, Vladislav Deinego, negotiator at the Minsk talks for the self-proclaimed Luhansk People’s Republic, stated that the conflicting sides had agreed that prisoner exchange is a priority issue and should be conducted even if Minsk negotiations are further delayed.