Ukraine to soon swap prisoners with rebels

Kiev, Dec 26 (IANS) The Ukrainian military forces are planning a fresh round of prisoner exchange with independence-seeking insurgents soon, a senior security official said here Friday.

“The exchange is likely to begin as soon as tomorrow (Saturday),” Vasily Budik, an aide to the head of the Security Service of Ukraine, told reporters, adding that it will take place on the “neutral territory” without giving further details, Xinhua reported.
The Security Service said Thursday that Ukraine was ready to free 225 rebel fighters for the release of 150-200 Ukrainian soldiers.
For now, both sides are holding hundreds of prisoners from months of fighting. However, the exact number of captives is unknown.
The prisoner swap is part of the Minsk ceasefire agreement signed between the two warring sides Sep 5 in an attempt to end the bloody conflict, but the agreement was never fully implemented.
Since then, more than 1,300 combatants and civilians have been killed in eastern Ukraine, bringing the overall death toll in the eight-month-old conflict to more than 4,700.
Representatives from Kiev and the leadership of the insurgents held a new round of peace talks Wednesday in the Belarusian capital of Minsk, mediated by envoys from Russia and the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), out of which the decision of prisoner swap was made.