Ukraine and pro-Russian separatists in the east of the country have agreed to exchange dozens of prisoners on Sunday, according to the government of the self-declared rebel territory of Donetsk.
The agreement follows peace talks between the leaders of Germany, France, Russia and Ukraine in Paris earlier this month. During the negotiations, held in the so-called “Normandy format,” Moscow and Kiev agreed to carry out a “release and exchange of conflict-related detainees” by the end of the year.
Donetsk government spokesperson Daria Morozova said in a statement that Ukraine would return 87 prisoners to the two separatist territories of Donetsk and Luhansk, and would receive 55 prisoners in return, AFP reported on Saturday.
OSCE Special Representative Martin Sajdik confirmed preparations for the prisoner swap were underway, according to AFP. Ukrainian authorities refused to comment on the exchange, which is expected to be held near Gorlivka, a town in the Donetsk region, AFP reported.
Violence erupted in eastern Ukraine in 2014, when pro-Russian militants sought to claim independence for the regions of Donetsk and Luhansk. More than 13,000 people have died in the armed conflict so far, according to the United Nations.
During the Paris peace talks on December 9 — the first head-to-head meeting between Ukraine’s new president, Volodymyr Zelenskiy, and Russian leader Vladimir Putin — Kiev and Moscow also recommitted to an existing ceasefire that has been violated on a daily basis and agreed to withdraw forces from conflict zones by March.