Ukrainian Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Reintegration of Temporarily Occupied Territories Oleksiy Reznikov has said the Russian Federation attempted to swap prisoners of war, bypassing the Minsk process.
"The Russians were up to the following trick: they said those nine people, and then four more people who they declared in words only, should have been handed over to Ukraine outside the Minsk and Normandy formats. They said they would transfer them to a person who firmly believes in the Minsk agreements, and gave the name of that Member of Parliament. But they emphasized it should have been done outside the Minsk and Normandy formats," he said during the Pravo Na Vladu ("Right to Power") TV panel show on 1+1 TV Channel on February 18, 2021.
Read alsoUkraine envoy says 'DPR'/'LPR' block prisoner swap since SeptReznikov said Ukraine turned down that proposal, saying Ukraine will act solely in line with the international deals.
"In no case [it is possible] – if they think they want to give our prisoners back, we will take everyone. Leonid Makarovych Kravchuk [who heads the Ukrainian delegation to the Trilateral Contact Group (TCG) on Donbas] together with Mrs. Liudmyla Denisova, Ukraine's Verkhovna Rada Ombudsperson, are ready to go anywhere, to any checkpoint, to meet the people and ensure they are provided with medical assistance. We are ready to take all our people without any conditions and limitations," he 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 MP Viktor Medvedchuk, a close ally of Russia's Vladimir Putin.
- Kravchuk said he regarded such statements by "leaders" of the so-called "LPR/DPR" as another attempt by Russia to avoid implementing international agreements.
- Ukraine's Foreign Ministry, in turn, 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 was to hand over nine detainees to Ukraine.
- On January 22, Kravchuk said Medvedchuk's publicity move to transport prisoners from occupied Donbas was no longer relevant.