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Russia accused of halting POW exchanges

by Dmytro Basmat November 18, 2023 2:23 AM 2 min read
Alexey Strelkov (R) among other Russian prisoners of the war in a sickbay at the POW camp in Western Ukraine in late September. (Photo by Alexander Khrebet/ The Kyiv Independent)
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Russia has practically stopped exchanging prisoners of war with Ukraine, a spokesperson for Ukraine's Coordination Center for the Treatment of Prisoners of War said in an interview on Nov. 17.

"Since summer, Russia has frozen exchanges," said Petro Yatsenko, Head of Press Services for the Coordination Center for the Treatment of Prisoners of War.

Despite a significant series of prisoner swaps in May of this year, exchanges have been stagnant since the summer, with the last exchange occurring on Aug. 7 and involving 22 Ukrainian prisoners returning home.

Yatsenko suggested that Russia's motive may be to destabilize Ukrainian society and convince the families of POWs that obstacles from the Ukrainian side are impeding exchanges.

Expressing concern, Yatsenko highlighted the deteriorating conditions for Ukrainian defenders held in Russia, emphasizing that they fall significantly below the standards outlined in the Geneva Conventions

Throughout the war, Russia's military has been repeatedly accused of mistreating Ukrainian POWs and violating international humanitarian law. Recent reports indicate that it has conscripted tens of thousands of Ukrainian citizens in the occupied regions of Ukraine, forcing them to fight against their own country.

"Our places of detention are filling up, and we do not need to keep these Russian prisoners of war at all. We would gladly exchange them for our defenders tomorrow."

‘I want to go home’: Inside a Russian prisoner of war camp in Ukraine
Editor’s note: The location of the prisoner of the war detention center is undisclosed for security reasons. The Kyiv Independent got vocal recorded agreement from the prisoners of the war to be interviewed and identified in the story. Undisclosed location in Western Ukraine – Private Alexey Strelk…

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