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Ukrainian politician sees grounds for optimism in Donbass in 2018

Medvedchuk recalled the sides had managed to arrange a ceasefire and a prisoner exchange in late 2017

KIEV, December 29. /TASS/. The outgoing year gives grounds - in a certain way thanks to a partial implementation of the Minsk accords - for discussing prospects as regards resolution of the armed civil conflict in Donbass in 2018, the Ukrainian government’s representative in the Ukraine Contact Group in charge of settling the conflict, Viktor Medvedchuk said on Friday.

"I’m looking at the New Year with optimism because we managed to do something at the end of 2017 that had seemed almost impossible - after more than fifteen months of depressive silence we managed to exchange and return home as many as 380 people," he said.

"It’s true they were on the opposite sides of the Line of Contact [which separates the pro-Kiev armed units and the self-defense forces of the self-proclaimed Donetsk and Lugansk republics - TASS] but nonetheless all of them are Ukrainians," he said.

Medvedchuk recalled the sides had managed to arrange a ceasefire.

"Even though the case in hand is the New Year period only, it is nonetheless important for the purposes of dialogue," he said. "We received one more confirmation from the world community that the Minsk accords are fundamental and there’s no alternative to them - something the whole world supports us on."

Medvedchuk sees the causes of optimistic feelings over the way the situation is developing "[…] in the wisdom and tolerance of the Ukrainian people rather than politicians or government officials."

Along with it, he cited the data from the Sophia Social Research Center, which suggested 64.9% Ukrainians objected to active combat actions for returning the territories of the Donetsk and Lugansk republics under Kiev’s control.

"People have grown weary of this armed confrontation and they hope the conflict in Donbass will be settled peacefully," Medvedchuk said.

The largest exchange of prisoners of war since the outbreak of the armed conflict in eastern Ukraine took place on Wednesday, December 27, at the Line of Contact near the town of Gorlovka.

Updated reports say the pro-Kiev forces handed 233 POWs to the republics and received 73 persons from them.

Yuri Grymchak, Ukrainian deputy minister for the territories uncontrolled by Kiev and the internally displaced persons, said the next exchange of POWs might take place within the next two months.