Ukraine secure release of 64 soldiers and civilians in prisoner swap with Russia

Ukraine presidency’s chief of staff Andriy Yermak said on Wednesday that the government was able to secure the release of 64 members of their military in the latest prisoner swap with Russia. Reuters also reported that the people who were involved in the swap also included a United States citizen.

“Sixty-four soldiers of the Ukrainian Armed Forces who fought in Donetsk and Lugansk — in particular participated in the defence of the city of Bakhmut — are going home,” Yermak said on social media.

“It was also possible to free a US citizen who helped our people — Suedi Murekezi,” he added.

Murekezi was arrested by the Russian forces in the Donetsk region in June and the authorities charged him with attending anti-Russian protests and “ethnic hatred”. Russia’s state-run TASS news agency also said that he was born in Rwanda before moving to the US with his family in 1994.

This was the first prisoner swap since US basketball star Brittney Griner was allowed to return home from the Russian prison. In exchange, Russian arms dealer Viktor Bout returned to his country.

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In the aftermath of the high-profile exchange, Russian President Vladimir Putin said that he was open to more prisoner exchanges if both Russia and US can reach proper understandings.

The Donetsk region has turned into the latest conflict zone between the two forces after Ukraine was able to regain control of major parts of Kherson. The resistance forces have recently destroyed a key bridge in the region and there were reports of Russian missile strikes on the banks of Dnipro River.

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