Exchange of POWs begins in eastern Ukraine

Ukraine and pro-Russian separatists began the exchange of prisoners of war Friday with hundreds expected to be released by evening.

The swap would involve more than 220 separatist fighters and 150 Ukrainian troops captured during fighting in eastern Ukraine in the past eight months.

The POW exchange is taking place under terms of an agreement reached between parties this week in the Belarusian capital, Minsk.

Representatives of Ukraine and pro-Russian rebels met earlier this week for talks mediated by the OSCE and Russian envoys, focusing on how to solidify a 12-point peace protocol agreed upon in September.

Wednesday’s session was to be followed by another session on Friday for signing a comprehensive peace accord to end the fighting in the Donbas region of eastern Ukraine.

Sources close to the talks described them as “very tense” and for now they are adjourned indefinitely.