Russia and Ukraine complete new prisoner of war swap

UAE-brokered exchange comes as two countries remain in near-stalemate on Ukraine’s southeastern front.

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Russia and Ukraine have conducted a new prisoner exchange, with 100 soldiers from each side returning home.

Ukrainian Presdent Volodymyr Zelenskyy said that most of the returning POWs were captured during the long defence of Mariupol early in the war, adding that more than 3,100 Ukrainians in total have been released from Russian captivity.

Joy was also evident among Russian soldiers, who were transported to Moscow “for treatment and rehabilitation in medical institutions”.

The United Arab Emirates acted as a broker for the deal, as it has on other occasions in the conflict.

A previous prisoner swap was thwarted last month when a Russian military transport plane crashed, allegedly with 65 Ukrainian POWs on board. However, it is still unclear exactly what happened.

Moscow insists that Ukraine shot down the plane with a US-made Patriot missile, and that genetic tests on remains recovered at the crash site have confirmed the identities of those killed. 

But Ukraine denies that any of its service members were lost in the incident.

The exchange took place even as Russia continued to pummel Ukraine with long-range strikes, while Ukraine has increasingly as the Ukrainians try to attack crucial points well behind the front line, even striking targets over the Russian border.

The two countries are locked in an effective battlefield stalemate, with drones and missiles at the forefront of the conflict.