The Times of India (New Delhi edition) - - Times Global -


and Ukraine car­ried out a long-awaited swap of 70 pris­on­ers on Satur­day, in a deal hailed by Pres­i­dent Volodymyr Ze­len­sky as a ‘first step’ to­wards end­ing their con­flict. Planes car­ry­ing 35 pris­on­ers from each side landed si­mul­ta­ne­ously in Moscow and Kiev, where the pas­sen­gers emerged un­der sunny skies. ‘We have taken the first step,’ Ze­len­sky said on the tar­mac af­ter greet­ing and hug­ging for­mer pris­on­ers, adding, ‘We have to take all the steps to fin­ish this hor­ri­ble war.’ In emo­tional scenes at Kiev’s Bo­ryspil air­port, fam­ily mem­bers em­braced and handed flow­ers to the for­mer pris­on­ers, many weep­ing with joy. Among those swapped were 24 Ukrainian sailors, Ukrainian film­maker Oleg Sentsov, and Rus­sian-Ukrainian jour­nal­ist Kyrylo Vyshyn­sky. Re­la­tions be­tween Kiev and Moscow nose­dived in 2014 when Rus­sia an­nexed Crimea and Moscow backed sep­a­ratists in the east­ern in­dus­trial re­gions of Donetsk and Lu­gansk. Fight­ing there has claimed more than 13,000 lives over the past five years. Ze­len­sky's elec­tion in April has raised hopes that a stalled peace process could be re­vived.


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