Russia and Ukraine are in the process of exchanging 70 prisoners, which is the first such operation since the crisis began between the two countries in 2014, the Ukrainian government source said.
Cited by AFP, the same source indicated that 35 people from each side are part of this Ukraine-awaited prisoner exchange.
These figures include the 24 Ukrainian Marines captured last year by Russia, according to the lawyer representing the military. Ukrainian filmmaker Oleg Sentsov, whose arrest in Russia has sparked an international campaign demanding his release, is also among the prisoners.
The Ukrainian filmmaker Oleg Sentsov, not on his own in Russie, has provoked an international camp in demand for liberation, on the part of prisoners on the move between Russie and L'Ukraine, as a source for government #AFP pic.twitter.com/qovsxIgZJe
– Agence France-Presse (@afpfr) September 7, 2019
On Thursday, Russian President Vladimir Putin announced the conclusion soon of a “massive” prisoner exchange with Ukraine, a move that signals a decline in tensions between the two countries.
"We are nearing the conclusion of the negotiations," Putin said at the East Economic Forum, adding that "the exchange will be massive" and that its date "will be known soon".
“It will be a complete normalization of our relations. It's inevitable. We are two parts of the same person, ”said the Russian President.
Two buses were seen leaving Lefortovo's high-security prison in Moscow today, marking the beginning of this prisoner exchange between the two countries. The images were broadcast live on Russian state television.
In July, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky proposed to Russia to exchange Ukrainian filmmaker Oleg Sentsov, sentenced to 20 years in prison for Moscow, by journalist Kirill Vyshinskiy tried for “high treason” in Kiev.
However, on 28 August, a Ukrainian court released journalist Kirill Vyshinskiy, who had been detained for over a year.
Kirill Vyshinskiy, a dual Ukrainian and Russian national, coordinator of the Russian state agency RIA-Novosti's Kiev office, had been detained since he was tried and convicted on treason charges in May 2018 and has now been released on parole.
Several Ukrainian media and authorities have advanced in recent weeks that the exchange of prisoners – about thirty on each side – between Moscow and Kiev, the first in several years, could be held soon and include the 24 Ukrainian sailors detained in Russia, following a naval incident last November.
The conflict between the two countries intensified in 2014, when Russia annexed the Crimean peninsula. Since then, dozens of Ukrainians and Russians have been detained on charges of treason or incitement to separatism.
Since Wednesday Vladimir Putin, President of Russia, Shinzō Abe, Prime Minister of Japan, Narendra Modi, President of India and Mahathir Mohamad, Prime Minister of Malaysia, will attend the Eastern Economic Forum in Vladivostok and ending on Friday.