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Russia slams EU-Ukraine summit where countries pledged new round of sanctions

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Russia has returned 116 prisoners of war to Ukraine as part of the latest prisoner exchange between the two countries, according to a senior Ukrainian official.

Head of the Office of the President of Ukraine Andriy Yermak posted on Telegram Saturday to announce that “another large exchange of prisoners” had taken place. 

This follows reports from Russia state media earlier Saturday that Ukraine had returned 63 Russian POWs after a “difficult negotiation process.”

“We managed to return 116 of our men, defenders of Mariupol, Kherson partisans, snipers from the Bakhmut sector and other heroes,” Yermak said in the Telegram post. 

Ukraine also secured the “return the bodies of foreign volunteers” Christopher Parry and Andrew Bagshaw, according to Yermak. 

Parry and Bagshaw, both British nationals, were killed a during a humanitarian mission in Soledar in eastern Ukraine, according to a statement from the Parry family on Jan. 24.

Yermak said that Ukraine also recovered the body of Yevhen Kulyk, a Ukrainian volunteer soldier “who served in the French Foreign Legion and returned to defend Ukraine” after the Russian invasion began.  

Russian state news agency RIA Novosti, citing the Russian Defense Ministry, reported Saturday that the 63 “released Russian servicemen includes persons of a ‘sensitive category’ whose exchange was facilitated by the mediation efforts of the United Arab Emirates leadership.”

The soldiers are back on Russian territory and are “being provided with all necessary psychological and medical assistance” and the chance to contact relatives, RIA Novosti added. 

Some background: On Jan. 8, 100 soldiers were returned to their respective home countries as a part of a prisoner exchange carried out by Russia and Ukraine. At the time, Yermak promised that it would not be “the last exchange,” outlining Ukraine’s commitment to returning “all our people.”

Uliana Pavlova and Denis Lapin contributed reporting to this post.

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