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Russia and Ukraine exchange hundreds of prisoners of war in biggest release so far

People hold the posters "Freedom to civilian prisoners" while attending a meeting in support of civilian women imprisoned by Russia, on Independence square in Kyiv, Ukraine
People hold the posters "Freedom to civilian prisoners" while attending a meeting in support of civilian women imprisoned by Russia, on Independence square in Kyiv, Ukraine Copyright AP Photo/Alex Babenko
Copyright AP Photo/Alex Babenko
By Euronews with AP
Published on Updated
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The swap comes as tempers flare between the warring nations and Russia steps up its assault on its neighbour.

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Russia and Ukraine have exchanged hundreds of prisoners of war in the biggest single release of captives since Russia's full-scale invasion in February 2022.

Ukrainian authorities said that 230 Ukrainian prisoners of war returned home in the two countries' first exchange in almost five months. Russia’s Defence Ministry said that 248 Russian servicemen have been freed under the deal, which was brokered by the United Arab Emirates.

There was no immediate acknowledgment from the UAE, which has maintained close business ties with Moscow throughout Russia’s war on Ukraine.

Some of the Ukrainians had been held since 2022. Among them were some of those who fought in milestone battles for Ukraine's Snake Island and the Ukrainian city of Mariupol.

Ukraine’s Human Rights Ombudsman, Dmytro Lubinets, said it was the 49th prisoner exchange of the war so far.

Russian officials offered no other details of the exchange.

News of the swap came even as  Russia said it shot down 12 missiles fired at one of its southern regions bordering Ukraine.

With Kyiv and Kharkiv pounded by Russian hypersonic missile strikes in recent days, Ukrainian forces are seeking to embarrass the Kremlin and puncture President Vladimir Putin’s argument that life is going on as normal despite the fighting.

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