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Ukrainian President refers to exchange as first step towards resuming dialogue with Russia

Vladimir Zelensky expects efforts within Minsk process to continue
Ukrainian President Vladimir Zelensky Ukrainian Presidential Press Office via AP
Ukrainian President Vladimir Zelensky
© Ukrainian Presidential Press Office via AP

KIEV, September 7. /TASS/. Ukrainian President Vladimir Zelensky has referred to the exchange of detainees conducted on Saturday as the first step towards the beginning of a true dialogue with Russia and ending the conflict in Ukraine’s east.

"We have agreed (with Russian President Vladimir Putin - TASS) on the first stage of resuming our dialogue and ending the war," he told reporters, adding that the agreement was achieved during a telephone conversation between the two leaders on Saturday.

According to Zelensky, Saturday’s exchange may be considered as "the first step towards resuming the dialogue with the Russian Federation." "I suggest that the first stage has been passed. Both I, and President Putin have done all that we pledged, done all without changing our agreements," he noted.

During the conversation with Putin, an agreement was achieved to assume joint efforts within a month, Zelensky said. "There will be detailed discussions and considerable efforts," he added.

Zelensky hopes that the Minsk process on the Donbass issue will continue to help cease military actions in the region.

"We will move towards returning all our prisoners and continue separating forces (in Donbass) within the Minsk process in two stages - ‘Zolotoye - Petrovskoye’ (settlements in Donbass - TASS), which will be followed by separation on the whole territory, a complete ceasefire and the end of war," President said when meeting Ukrainian citizens at the airport after the exchange of detainees between Moscow and Kiev on Saturday.

He also expressed hope that eventually Ukraine would "get back not only people but territories as well."

The special aircraft of Rossiya flight unit Tu-204 carrying Russian citizens released within the prisoner swap landed at Moscow’s Vnukovo Airport earlier on Saturday. The Ukrainian special aircraft landed roughly at the same time at the Boryspil International Airport. Russian Human Rights Ombudsperson Tatyana Moskalkova said that the exchange of detainees was based on the ‘35 for 35’ formula.

Preparations for exchange of detainees between Moscow and Kiev intensified after Vladimir Zelensky was elected Ukrainian President. The active stage of negotiations and formalization of legal procedures regarding the citizens of the two countries to be put on the list started a couple of weeks ago. On September 5, Russian President Vladimir Putin said that the exchange would be large-scale and can serve as a step towards improving the bilateral relationship.