Ukraine, rebels agree on prisoner exchange before year’s end


FILE – In this Monday, Dec. 9, 2019 file photo, French President Emmanuel Macron, center, Russian President Vladimir Putin, right, and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy, left, sit before a working session with German Chancellor Angela Merkel at the Elysee Palace in Paris, France. Russia’s envoy at the talks with Ukraine and Russia-backed separatists said Monday, Dec. 23, 2019 they agreed on terms of exchanging prisoners following an agreement reached by the nations’ presidents in Paris earlier this month. (AP Photo/Thibault Camus, Pool, File

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MOSCOW (AP) — Russia’s envoy at talks between Ukraine and Russia-backed separatists said Monday that they agreed on conditions for a prisoner exchange following a deal reached by the two nations’ presidents.

Boris Gryzlov, who represents Russia in the so-called Contact Group on the conflict in eastern Ukraine, said after Monday’s conference call that the parties agreed to conduct the swap before the end of the year.

Ukraine’s representative in the Contact Group said the list of prisoners to be exchanged have yet to be finalized.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy, who met the leaders of Russia, France and Germany in Paris on Dec. 9, had hailed the prospective exchangeof all known prisoner s as a key achievement of the talks. He said he expected all 72 Ukrainian prisoners held by the separatists to return home before the year’s end.

Ukrainian and rebel representatives in the Contact Group failed to agree on conditions of the prisoner exchange last week but finally reached agreement during Monday’s conference call.

The fighting in eastern Ukraine that flared up in 2014 after Russia’s annexation of Crimea has killed more than 14,000 and ravaged Ukraine’s eastern industrial heartland.

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