The recent prisoner exchange between Ukraine and Russia marks the largest swap of prisoners since the beginning of the war. Over 400 prisoners from both sides of the conflict were exchanged on Tuesday, with Ukraine taking 135 citizens, while Russia received 76. This follows several other smaller prisoner exchanges over the past year.
The prisoner exchange is seen by many as a sign of easing tensions between the two countries, despite the ongoing conflict that has raged since 2014. The war has seen thousands of casualties on both sides and while both countries suffer from a lack of trust in one another, this exchange is seen as a positive step towards a de-escalation of hostilities.
The Ukrainian president, Petro Poroshenko, said that the exchange was a “step towards a final resolution”. He expressed hope that further negotiations between Ukraine and Russia could help to bring an end to the war.
The exchange is not without controversy, however. Many critics have said that the release of those on the Ukrainian side of the exchange was done under duress, accusing the Russian government of using the exchange as a bargaining tool.
While the exchange itself is a step in the right direction, the future of the war in the region remains uncertain. Both sides of the conflict remain starkly critical of one another, and the recent exchange alone will not be enough to put a stop to the war. Nevertheless, it is a positive sign that both countries can come to some sort of agreement and work towards finding a solution to the bitter conflict.