Ukrainian and Russian armed forces on Thursday conducted the first exchange of prisoners of war since Moscow launched its invasion of Ukraine one month ago.

“Today, by order of President [Volodymyr] Zelensky, the first full-fledged exchange of prisoners of war took place. In exchange for 10 captured occupiers, we pulled out 10 of our servicemen,” Iryna Vereshchuk, Ukraine’s deputy prime minister, said in a Facebook post.

“Also, today we sent 11 Russian civilian sailors to the Russians, whom we rescued from a sunken ship near Odessa,” Vereshchuk said. “As a result of this exchange, 19 Ukrainian civilian sailors are returning home from the rescue ship Sapphire, which was captured by the occupiers while trying to take our troops from Snake island. Under the terms of the exchange, the lifeboat itself will also be returned to Ukraine and sent to a port in Turkey.”

Russia’s human rights commissioner confirmed a prisoner swap had taken place, Interfax reported on Thursday.

“I can confirm the exchange of 10 Russian servicemen detained in Ukraine for 10 Ukrainian servicemen,” Tatyana Moskalkova told Interfax on Thursday.

Moskalkova also confirmed the exchange of the Ukrainian and Russian civilian sailors.

The development comes one day after Ukrainian officials denied claims by Russia that both sides had already conducted two exchanges of soldiers captured by each side.

Earlier this month, Ukraine transferred a group of Russian soldiers in exchange for Ivan Fedorov, the mayor of the Russian-occupied southern city of Mariupol. Fedorov was taken hostage by Russian armed forces after city residents held daily pro-Ukrainian protests against Russia’s invasion.

Ukrainian officials claim Thursday’s exchange was the first soldier-for-soldier swap by both sides.



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