Head of the Ukrainian delegation to the Trilateral Contact Group (TCG) on Donbas Leonid Kravchuk says Ukraine will not agree to the format of the transfer of hostages through an individual, namely MP from the Opposition Platform - For Life Party Viktor Medvedchuk, Russian President Vladimir Putin's closest ally in Ukraine.
Speaking in an interview for Apostrophe TV, Kravchuk explained why the transfer of certain hostages from occupied Donbas to Medvedchuk by a flight from Rostov-on-Don, via Minsk, to Kyiv had not taken place.
According to him, Russia wanted to "perform a show" and "boost poll numbers" for some people in Ukraine by bringing Ukrainian hostages from the occupied areas of Donbas.
"The swap did not happen and it would not happen the way it is proposed. There is an established and proven procedure for an exchange. And this shall be done at the level of the state rather than individuals," Kravchuk said.
He said there are moral principles that cannot be compromised.
"But manipulating those principles, those norms concerning alive people means falling into a moral pit. I call it a moral pit when people pull out all the stops, being ready to cynically act... (to serve) their own interests rather than the interests of people and the established exchange procedure, disregarding the lives of those people and the torments they have endured," he added.
"I couldn't have ever thought that in Ukraine there are so many enemies from within who, either for the sake of their ambitious interests, or for power, or for the sake of money... will stop at nothing. And this is the fact when you can say: those people who have resorted to such steps and who wanted to use a difficult situation to their advantage, they are exactly such people," Kravchuk added.
Prisoner swap in Donbas: Details
- On January 16, some Russian media outlets reported that the occupation forces in Donbas were ready to hand over some Ukrainian prisoners to the Ukrainian side through the mediation of Medvedchuk.
- Kravchuk said he regards such statements by the leaders of the so-called "LPR/DPR" as another attempt by Russia to avoid implementing international agreements.
- Meanwhile, the Ukrainian Foreign Ministry accused the Russian Federation of violating the established mechanisms for the release of persons held in the temporarily occupied Ukrainian territories.
- On January 20, Ukraine's Verkhovna Rada Ombudsperson Liudmyla Denisova said the Russian side should hand over nine prisoners to Ukraine.
- On January 22, Kravchuk said Medvedchuk's private PR stunt to transport prisoners from occupied Donbas was no longer feasible.