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Russian President Vladimir Putin has declared he will personally get involved in coordinating a prisoner swap in the Donbass region of East Ukraine between Ukrainian forces and the pro-Russian separatists involved in the festering conflict. Over ten thousand people, military and civilian alike, have died in the war which sparked after the Russian annexation of the Crimean peninsula in 2014.
“Asked to help speed up the prisoner exchange process between Kiev and separatist republics, Putin said: “I will do everything that is in my power…I will speak with the leaders of the Donetsk Republic and the Lugansk Republic. I hope that what you suggest will be carried out as soon as possible,” Putin said during a visit to a monastery near Moscow,” wrote AFP.
Ukrainian politician Viktor Medvedchuk, Kyiv’s envoy to the conflict zone, recently met with Putin to discuss the issue. He restated comments by Ukrainian authorities that 152 soldiers or pro-Kiev militants are still being held by separatists in the east, while Kiev is ready to return 306 rebel captives, reported AFP.
Some analysts believe that Russia is losing money and the domestic narrative as the conflict simmers and Ukraine gets stronger as time goes on. Putin may be looking for a way out of the crisis.