REUTERS

The European Union has described the latest exchange of detainees between Ukraine and Russia-occupied Donbas as a welcome next step towards the implementation of measures agreed at the Normandy Four summit in Paris.

"On April 16, following an agreement reached by the Trilateral Contact Group, a mutual release and exchange of detainees related to the conflict in eastern Ukraine took place," EU Lead Spokesperson for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Peter Stano said in a statement. "This is a welcome next step towards the implementation of one of the measures agreed at the Paris Normandy Format Summit of December 9, 2019."

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The European Union says it expects all parties to continue work to implement the Minsk agreements, including by drawing on the recommendations agreed in the Normandy Format.

The European Union reaffirmed its support to the work of the Normandy Format, the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) and the Trilateral Contact Group.

"Full implementation of the Minsk agreements is the only way to reach a sustainable and peaceful solution to the conflict in eastern Ukraine. A permanent ceasefire – also as a response to the global call of UN Secretary General Guterres – would build confidence and alleviate the dire humanitarian situation," it said.

"Russia and the armed formations that it backs must also ensure freedom of movement across the contact line for the OSCE Special Monitoring Mission and humanitarian actors, as well as access of the International Committee of the Red Cross, to all those remaining in detention," it added.

The European Union reiterated it remains steadfast in its firm support of Ukraine's independence, sovereignty and territorial integrity.