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Russia uses prisoners as political weapon against Ukraine - Politico

Russia uses prisoners as political weapon against Ukraine - Politico Russia uses prisoner exchanges as weapon against Ukraine (Photo: Getty Images)

Russia is increasing pressure on Ukrainians and involves prisoners of war in this. Moscow uses prisoners as a political weapon, according to Politico.

Ukrainian military personnel in Russian captivity have started calling their relatives. At the same time, they say that supposedly Russia is ready for exchanges, but Ukraine refuses.

"Recently, these calls became massive. So, we understood that this is a campaign to cause distrust in the government," said Petro Yatsenko, a representative of the Coordination Headquarters on the treatment of prisoners of war, in a comment to the agency.

The wife of a Chornobyl NPP defender who ended up in captivity at the beginning of the invasion, Valentyna Tkachenko, said that she also received a call from her husband. Before that, she received a short note with the words "I am alive, everything is OK" only once.

According to her, her husband got in touch on November 29, 2023, called her on Viber. The conversation lasted three minutes, and she could not ask questions. The captured Ukrainian soldier said, "Valya, go make things hard for Kyiv. Kyiv does not want to take us back," and then apologized and ended the conversation. The woman did not go out in protest because she believed that her husband had become an instrument of the Kremlin's political game against Ukraine.

According to officially confirmed data, Russia holds 3,000 defenders and 28,000 civilians captive. Actual numbers may be higher.

According to Yatsenko, Ukraine has recently increased the exchange fund and is ready to accept all occupiers prepared to surrender.

Since the start of the full-scale war, Ukraine has returned almost 2,600 military and civilians from Russian captivity.

Prisoner exchange

It is worth noting that Ukraine and Russia have conducted a series of exchanges of prisoners of war since the start of the full-scale war. The latest exchange occurred on August 7, when 22 soldiers returned home.

Russia has frozen the exchange of prisoners with Ukraine, and negotiations on their resumption are ongoing. Ukrainian ombudsman Dmytro Lubinets said that Russian captives want to return home, but the Kremlin refuses to take them back.

President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said that exchanges occur directly on the battlefield and are coordinated by commanders. Also, according to the head of the state, Ukraine is working on the exchange of a "decent" number of captive defenders.