In November, Ukrainian Choice movement leader Viktor Medvedchuk, Kiev's representative in the humanitarian subgroup at the Minsk talks, said that Kiev and the self-proclaimed Donetsk and Luhansk People’s Republics (DPR and LPR) coordinated lists of prisoners for the swap. At the first stage, Kiev will hand over 306 people, the militia will return 74.
"German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Emmanuel Macron welcome the agreement of the Trilateral Contact Group on the exchange of up to 280 prisoners from both sides of the contact line. The agreement should be promptly implemented," the statement said.
"They [Merkel and Macron] stress the necessity to accelerate the work on the political package, which is stipulated by the Minsk agreements, including amnesty, special status, local election and constitution amendments," the statement read further.
The German chancellor and the French president also demanded that Russian servicemen return to the Joint Center for Control and Coordination in Donbas.
"They [Merkel and Macron] demand the return of the Russian officers to the Joint Center for Control and Coordination in Donbas, which plays a crucial role in supporting OSCE [the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe] observers and the ceasefire agreements," the statement added.
The conflict in eastern Ukraine has been brewing since April 2014 nearly two months after the nationalist forces came to power through a coup in Kiev. The government launched a military operation targeting the Donetsk and Lugansk regions that had demanded independence from Ukraine. The conflicting parties signed a ceasefire agreement in February 2015 in the Belarusian capital of Minsk, brokered by Russia, Germany, France, and Ukraine. The Minsk Accords charted a roadmap toward deescalating the conflict.