Ukraine, Pro-Russian Forces Trade Prisoners to Mark the New Year
Ukraine and pro-Russian separatist rebels had the largest exchange of prisoners on Wednesday since the start of the conflict in 2014.
The exchange allowed hundreds of former prisoners to return home ahead of the New Year and Orthodox Christmas.
More than 10,000 people have died in the war. Reports of deaths and injuries continued daily this year despite a ceasefire in 2015.
The mother of a Ukrainian prisoner received a call from her son Oleksandr Oliynyk. He said, "Mum, I'm already here."
She told a Ukrainian news channel, "You cannot imagine what it means for a mother, to not see your child for three-and-a-half years, since August 2014."
The Ukrainian government in Kiev agreed to hand over 306 prisoners to the pro-Russian rebels and to receive 74 prisoners in return.
Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko confirmed on social media "All 74 Ukrainian hostages are already at home, on the territory controlled by our army."
Poroshenko added that among the prisoners handed to Ukraine were a historian and a "cyborg" - the nickname Ukrainians gave to soldiers who defended Donetsk airport in one of the conflict's most intense battles in 2014.
The exact number of prisoners returned to rebel-held territory is unclear. Viktor Medvedchuk is Ukraine's representative to ongoing peace talks. He told the Russian news agency TASS that some captives refused to return.
TASS reported that Medvedchuk also expected more exchanges in 2018. The Ukrainian state security service said 103 prisoners remained in separatist hands.
The exchange came as U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson asked Russia to "lower the level of violence" in eastern Ukraine.
Russian officials in Moscow did not comment on the exchange. Ukraine and its Western allies say the Russian government supports the pro-Russian separatists with troops, cash, and heavy weapons. Moscow denies the claim.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Emmanuel Macron welcomed the exchange in a joint statement. They said both sides should release the remaining captives.
Germany's foreign ministry said it was an important step in acting on the ceasefire agreement agreed in the Belarus capital Minsk. The agreement was signed by Ukraine, Russia, Germany, and France in early 2015.
"Above all, it is also an important humanitarian gesture before the New Year and Orthodox Christmas," a foreign ministry statement said.
I'm Jill Robbins.
1.foreign ministry 外交部
The embassy says it has telexed their demands to the foreign ministry.
2.Above all 首先
She liked him above all for his effortless charm.
3.act on 按照...行事
A patient will usually listen to the doctor's advice and act on it.
4.peace talk 和平谈判
The peace talk broke down without any agreement being reached.
5.The Ukrainian government in Kiev agreed to hand over 306 prisoners to the pro-Russian rebels and to receive 74 prisoners in return.
hand over 移交
He also handed over a letter of apology from the Prime Minister.
They would just catch the robbers and hand them over to the police.
6.The Ukrainian government in Kiev agreed to hand over 306 prisoners to the pro-Russian rebels and to receive 74 prisoners in return.
in return 作为报答
He sent me a gift; I should give him something in return.
What did you give him in return?
这场冲突导致1万多人死亡 。虽然在2015年实现了停火，但今年伤亡报告仍在继续 。
一位乌克兰战俘的母亲接到儿子Oleksandr Oliynyk的电话 。他说：“妈妈，我回家了 。”
波罗申科还表示，移交给乌克兰的战俘中包括一位历史学家以及一名“半机械人”- 这是乌克兰人在2014年的一场最激烈战斗中给守卫顿涅茨克机场的士兵起的绰号 。
回到叛军所控制的领土的确切人数尚不清楚 。维克多·梅德维奇（Viktor Medvedchuk）是乌克兰的代表，正在进行和平谈判 。他对俄罗斯塔新社表示，一些战俘拒绝回家 。
塔斯社报道称，梅德维奇期待2018年交换更多战俘 。乌克兰国家安全局表示，还有103名战俘被分裂分子控制 。
莫斯科的俄罗斯官员并未对这次换俘发表评论 。乌克兰及其西方盟友表示，俄罗斯政府为亲俄分裂分子提供士兵、现金和重武器 。莫斯科否认了这一指控 。
德国总理默克尔和法国总统马克龙在一项联合声明中对这次换俘表示欢迎 。他们称，双方应该释放剩下的战俘 。
德国外交部表示，这是践行于白俄罗斯首都明斯克达成的停火协议的重要一步 。2015年初，乌克兰、俄罗斯、德国以及法国签署了这一协议 。