Prisoner swap in Donbas over: 74 Ukrainians going home


The Patriarch of Moscow and All Rus, Kirill, said the upcoming prisoner swap would be held on Wednesday after both sides of the Ukrainian conflict had reached an agreement on all conditions, Efe reported.

The hostage exchange at the Mayorsk control gate in the Donetsk region was attended by Ukrainian authorities and representatives of the separatists, the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), and the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC).

The first Ukrainian prisoners get off a bus Wednesday during a prisoner exchange at a checkpoint near the eastern Ukraine city of Horlivka.

Ukrainian officials stated earlier that they had agreed to the exchange of 74 Ukrainian hostages for 306 separatist hostages, the biggest exchange so far in terms of numbers.

Among those released were journalists, bloggers and activists who had been accused of spying or treason.

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Separatist leaders and a Ukrainian government representative agreed to the exchange last week, with the head of the Russian Orthodox Church acting as mediator. Also Russian President Vladimir Putin had to take case and call on separatist chiefs to into a compromise that would allow swap before end of this year. The Kremlin has also continued to aid pro-Russia fighters in the eastern part of Ukraine, where ties to Russia are stronger.Nauert's statement also said Tillerson and Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov agreed to continue to seek a diplomatic solution to the threat posed by North Korea's nuclear weapons program and to support negotiations toward a peaceful end to the ongoing civil war in Syria, where the US and Russia have supported opposing sides.

In total, more than 10,000 people have died in eastern Ukraine since 2014, year in which conflict erupted, according to latest data provided by Office of United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights.

The exact number of prisoners exchanged is uncertain.

OSCE observers have been monitoring the situation in Ukraine since 2014. After the swap, 94 Ukrainians remained in Russian captivity.

On Saturday, the US State Department said it would provide lethal anti-tank weapons to Ukraine to help its forces fight Russian-backed separatists.