ukraine and russia complete first prisoner exchange since plane crash

The swap came a week after the crash of a Russian military transport plane that Moscow says was carrying Ukrainian prisoners.

Russia and Ukraine announced the exchange of hundreds of prisoners of war on Wednesday, resuming the carefully choreographed trading of captives only a week after Moscow accused Kyiv of shooting down a Russian military transport plane that it said was carrying dozens of Ukrainian prisoners of war on their way to be exchanged.

The cause of the crash, which occurred in Russia’s Belgorod region near the border with Ukraine last week, remains unknown. Ukrainian officials have neither confirmed nor denied responsibility, have called for an international investigation and said that the Russians had offered no conclusive evidence that prisoners were on the flight.

After the crash, families of Ukrainian prisoners worried publicly that the episode might imperil one of the few diplomatic channels left between the two countries, making it less likely that they would see their loved ones again.

But the process of exchanging prisoners, while at times slowed down, has endured even during the most trying moments of a war that has stretched on for nearly two years.

The trade on Wednesday was the 50th exchange between the two nations since the war began, and more than 3,000 Ukrainian soldiers and civilians have returned home, according to Ukrainian officials. While Russia has not disclosed a total number, at least 1,200 soldiers have been returned, according to statements by the country’s officials.

President Volodymyr Zelensky of Ukraine, who announced the trade in a statement on social media, said 207 soldiers and civilians had been returned. The returnees range in age from 20 to 61.

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