Russia exploiting prisoner swap issue to destabilize Ukraine by contacting POW families – ombudsman

Dmytro Lubinets
Dmytro Lubinets

Russia is using the issue of prisoner exchange to undermine the situation in Ukraine, telling relatives that it is allegedly ready to return the soldiers, while Kyiv is blocking the process, the Verkhovna Rada Commissioner for Human Rights Dmytro Lubinets reported on Telegram on March 16.

The Russians are thus trying to undermine the social and political situation in the country.

Read also: Red Cross still has no access to Ukrainian prisoners in Russia, Lubynets says

They are persuading parents and relatives of prisoners of war to come out to protests, as well as to block streets and administrative buildings, allegedly to influence Ukraine's decision to conduct exchanges.

"However, Ukraine has never stopped the exchange process!" said the commissioner.

Lubinets met earlier in Chernivtsi with relatives of prisoners of war who went missing under special circumstances and worked in military units in Chernivtsi Oblast, news outlet Informator reports.

Read also: Ukrainian prisoners of war tortured in Russia - UN report

The Ukrainian official also spoke about his meeting with Russian Ombudsperson Tatiana Moskalkova.

"At all three meetings, I handed over the lists and raised the issue of the return of all prisoners of war held on the territory of the Russian Federation," said Lubinets.

“I have repeatedly initiated large exchanges, including being the initiator of all-for-all exchanges. It was only because of the unwillingness of the Russian side to do so that we did not conduct such exchanges.”

The last prisoner swap took place on Feb. 8. Ukraine returned 49 soldiers of the National Guard of Ukraine, 25 border guards, and 26 soldiers of the Armed Forces of Ukraine, including 11 territorial defense fighters.

Read also: Ukraine’s Human Rights Commissioner Lubinets reveals struggles in prisoner exchanges with Russia

The ombudsman said earlier that 2,800 bodies and fragments of Ukrainian soldiers had been identified in Ukraine.

Russia has not yet provided Ukraine with official lists of allegedly killed prisoners of war during the crash of the IL-76 military transport aircraft in Belgorod Oblast.

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Read the original article on The New Voice of Ukraine