Ukrainian prisoners, including sailors and filmmaker Oleg Sentsov, are flying back to Ukraine after a prisoner swap was completed with Russia, according to comments that were reposted on Facebook by Ukraine’s general prosecutor. Neither the general prosecutor’s spokesman nor Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskiy’s spokeswoman were immediately available for comment.
Russia had transferred Sentsov from a remote Arctic prison to custody in Moscow amid talks with Kiev on a possible prisoner swap, news agencies TASS and Interfax reported on Thursday.
A Ukrainian court also freed a senior Russian journalist accused of supporting pro-Russian separatists.
Securing a prisoner swap would be a win for Zelenskiy, who became president this year promising to bring an end to the conflict in eastern Ukraine.
Ukrainian troops have been battling Russian-backed forces in the Donbass region of eastern Ukraine since 2014, in a conflict that has claimed more than 13,000 lives. Sporadic fighting continues despite a ceasefire agreement.
Russia is holding dozens of Ukrainian captives from the conflict as well as 24 sailors who were captured last year.