KIEV, August 14. /TASS/. Advisor to Ukraine’s State Security Service (SBU) Yury Tandit has told a press conference that Kiev exchanged 2,852 prisoners at the moment.
"As of now, 2,852 people have been released, and 172 people are left. We also have 846 people missing," Tandit said.
"There are now significant difficulties" in the prisoner exchange process, "there is only negotiations process," he added. "The [self-proclaimed Donetsk and Luhansk] republics help us in [prisoner] exchange. We do too, and we helped people there more than once," he added.
Prisoner exchange on an "all for all" basis is envisaged by the Minsk agreements on the settlement of the Ukrainian crisis.
The Minsk accords were signed on February 12, after negotiations in the so-called "Normandy format" in the Belarusian capital Minsk, bringing together Russian President Vladimir Putin, French President Francois Hollande, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko.
The Minsk accords also envisage ceasefire, weaponry withdrawal, local elections in Donbas, constitutional reform in Ukraine and establishing working sub-groups on security, political, economy and humanitarian components of the Minsk accords.
The Ukrainian forces and the self-defense forces of the self-proclaimed Donetsk and Luhansk republics have repeatedly accused each other of violating ceasefire and other points of the Minsk agreements.
Ukrainian forces are holding captive around 1,200 residents of the self-proclaimed Luhansk People’s Republic (LPR), LPR head Igor Plotnitsky told a press conference in Lugansk Inform Center earlier this week.
"These numbers are being updated consistently. According to our information, I am not mistaken, there are 1,200 people," Plotnitsky said.
Kiev said that LPR currently holds around 1,500 Ukrainian prisoners. "These are not just numbers, there are real people behind these numbers. You know that [prisoner] exchange recently took place in DPR [self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic], and there were four fighters from our people’s militia. They are now here, in Luhansk, with their families. We will have separate talks with them in the future and, if necessary, will provide medical assistance and everything else," he continued.
"Consequently, the issue at stake is not the number, but rather an understanding that we are ready to fight for every person. Even more so, this is envisaged by the Minsk agreements, and, as you know, we are working in accordance with the ‘all for all’ principle," Plotnitsky concluded.