Russia-Ukraine prisoner swap lauded

In a tweet yesterday afternoon US President Donald Trump congratulated Russia and Ukraine on a prisoner swap that happened earlier the same day. “Russia and Ukraine just swapped large numbers of prisoners. Very good news, perhaps a first giant step to peace. Congratulations to both countries!”, he wrote.

Moscow and Kiev each exchanged 35 prisoners on Saturday and this move was seen by many leaders around the world as a first positive sign of  thawing relations.

Among the released were 24 Ukrainian sailors detained by Russia in the Kerch Strait last November, filmmaker Oleg Sentsov and Kyrylo Vyshynsky, a Ukrainian journalist, who worked for Russian news agency RIA Novotsi in Kiev.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel Saturday hailed a swap of 70 prisoners between Russia and Ukraine as a "sign of hope" and called for the implementation of a 2015 ceasefire deal that Paris and Berlin helped broker.

"This exchange of prisoners between Russia and Ukraine is a sign of hope and it's worth continuing the hard work to implement the Minsk accord," she said in a statement.

France’s Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian said on Sunday a prisoner swap between Ukraine and Russia was an opportunity to find a solution to the crisis, Reuters reported.

“There is an opportunity, a door opened to start making progress towards settling this conflict,” Le Drian told Europe 1 radio.

The conflict in Ukraine will be at the heart of the agenda of the Franco-Russian Cooperation Council on Security Issues, which Le Drian and Defence Minister Florence Parly will attend in Moscow tomorrow.



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