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  • The Ukrainian presidency reported in a facebook statement that

    The Ukrainian presidency reported in a facebook statement that "the mutual release of the detainees was over" | Photo: Reuters

Published 29 December 2019

The controversial exchange brought home 200 prisoners from both the Ukrainian government forces and pro-Russian separatists.

The Ukrainian government forces and pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine have completed a full prisoner exchange, exchanging all remaining detainees from the five-year conflict.

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The Ukrainian presidency reported on Sunday in a facebook statement that "the mutual release of the detainees was over."

The communiqué also states that 76 former pro-government prisoners have returned to their homes in Ukraine, while separatist officials say the Republics of Donetsk and Lugansk welcomed back a total of 124 people.

French President Emmanuel Macron and German Chancellor Angela Merkel issued a joint statement welcoming the prisoner exchange.

The statement, released by the French President's office, states that "the prisoner exchange that was completed is a long-awaited humanitarian measure," and in lined with the decisions taken at the Paris summit, it must now be followed by the full implementation of the ceasefire.

The Paris summit a month ago saw the leaders of Russia, Ukraine, France and Germany agree to implement "ceasefire support measures" for eastern Ukraine and the promise of "stabilising" the region by the end of the year.

Apart from the prisoner exchange, another agreement reached at the summit was the creation of three new buffer zones and the creation of new crossing points, allowing civilians to cross the line of control separating Donetsk and Lugansk from the rest of Ukraine.

The group also agreed to implement the "Steinmeier Formula" in Ukrainian legislation.

This formula, named after the former German foreign minister, provides for elections to be held in Donetsk and Lugansk, with the aim of granting autonomy status to these regions. 

Following the prisoner exchange, the countries involved hope to continue progress towards ending a conflict in which more than 13,000 people have been killed since pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine launched a campaign for independence in 2014.

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