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Russia not interested in all-for-all POW exchange, Ukraine's ombudsman says

by Abbey Fenbert June 16, 2024 4:57 AM 2 min read
Ukrainian Ombudsman Dmytro Lubinets during the "Ukraine. Year 2024" forum in Kyiv, Ukraine, on Feb. 25, 2024. (Dmytro Larin/Global Images Ukraine via Getty Images)
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If the Russian Federation were interested in an all-of-all prisoner exchange with Ukraine, the trade would already have taken place, Ukraine's Ombudsman Dmytro Lubinets told the news outlet Ukrinform on June 15.

President Volodymyr Zelensky announced in early May that Kyiv was interested in a total prisoner of war (POW) exchange with Moscow, and that the idea would be discussed at the global peace summit in Switzerland.

Speaking to journalists on the first day of the summit, Lubinets said that Russia did not seem interested in the exchange.

"As a person who is constantly involved in these processes, I can confirm that Ukraine has never refused to exchange prisoners of war," Lubinets said.

"On the contrary, we are constantly coming up with new initiatives. If the Russians were interested in returning their prisoners of war, we would have done it long ago. It seems that they simply do not need them."

The last reported prisoner exchange occurred on May 31, with 75 servicemembers returned to Ukraine from Russian captivity. The previous reported swap occurred on Feb. 8, with 100 Ukrainian POWs freed.

Before that, on Jan. 3, 230 prisoners were exchanged in the largest prisoner exchange since the start of Russia's full-scale invasion.

The Coordination Headquarters for the Treatment of Prisoners of War reports that 3,210 Ukrainian POWs have been freed from Russian imprisonment as of May 31.

The release of all prisoners is a key topic of Ukraine's global peace summit, which began in Lucerne, Switzerland on June 15. A draft joint communique from the conference obtained by Reuters calls for a total exchange of all detainees and the return of all deported Ukrainian children.

"(A)ll prisoners of war must be released by complete exchange," the document reads.

"All deported and unlawfully displaced Ukrainian children, and all other Ukrainian civilians who were unlawfully detained, must be returned to Ukraine."

Ombudsman asks UN, Red Cross to investigate videos of alleged abuses of Ukrainian POWs
Ukraine’s Ombudsman Dmytro Lubinets said on June 2 that he appealed to the United Nations and the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) to investigate videos showing beatings, humiliation, and threats of Ukrainian prisoners of war by Russian soldiers in the Kharkiv direction.

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