Russia, Ukraine swap prisoners amid escalation in war
Russia and Ukraine carried out a major prisoner swap on Wednesday with the help of Turkey and Saudi Arabia involving almost 300 people, the largest since the war began.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said the swap had been under preparation for a long time. Under the deal, 215 Ukrainians and 55 Russians were released. Ukraine also sent Viktor Medvedchuk, the leader of a banned pro-Russian party who was facing treason charges to Russia according to the terms of the deal.
"This is clearly a victory for our country, for our entire society. And the main thing is that 215 families can see their loved ones safe and at home," Zelenskyy said.
Zelenskiy thanked Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan for his help and said five senior Ukrainian commanders who led a prolonged Ukrainian defense of Mariupol earlier this year were part of the deal, and they would remain in Turkey until the end of the war.
Earlier, Russian media reported the commanders would go on a trial. There was no immediate comment from Moscow about the prisoner swap.
Erdogan said on Monday in an interview with American TV PBS that Turkey was working to resolve a hostage crisis between Russia and Ukraine to deescalate tensions between the two countries.