Biden welcomes Ukraine's decision to release 15 Donbas militants

11:44, 16 December 2016
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U.S. Vice President Joe Biden says he hopes that the Ukrainian authorities' decision to unilaterally release 15 individuals taken prisoner during the Donbas conflict will give momentum to the prisoner exchange process.

REUTERS

"The Vice President voiced strong support for the Ukrainian Government's decision today [December 15] to unilaterally release 15 individuals taken prisoner during the conflict, expressing hope that Russia and Russian-backed separatists would respond in kind to this goodwill gesture and give momentum to the prisoner exchange process stipulated in the Minsk agreements," says a White House readout of Biden's calls with President of Ukraine Petro Poroshenko and Prime Minister of Ukraine Volodymyr Groysman on Thursday.

Read alsoSteinmeier hopes for hostage swap in Donbas before ChristmasThe leaders also reiterated their unwavering support for full implementation of the Minsk agreements and underscored the need to reinstitute a full cease-fire and ensure full access for OSCE monitors to enable further disengagement of forces along the line of contact, the readout said.

At the same time, the leaders agreed that sanctions on Russia should remain in place until Russia has fully implemented its Minsk commitments.

As UNIAN reported earlier, First Deputy Chairperson of the Verkhovna Rada and Ukraine's representative in the Donbas Trilateral Contact Group's humanitarian subgroup Iryna Gerashchenko said on December 15 that Ukraine was ready to unilaterally free 15 militants out of the 228 listed by Donbas terrorists for exchange. In her view, this measure could unlock the hostage release process.

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