Saudi Arabia claims Ukraine-Russia prisoner exchange was facilitated “on humanitarian grounds”
Meeting of the plane with foreigners released from captivity, September 21 (Photo:Rustem Umerov/Facebook)
Saudi Arabia was guided by humanitarian principles in its efforts to mediate a major prisoner of war exchange between Russia and Ukraine, Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan Al Saud claimed in an interview with the BBC on Sept. 23.
“We were in contact with all countries involved,” said Prince Faisal.
“Like I said, the motivation was to achieve a humanitarian breakthrough. I think we succeeded.”
According to him, negotiations on the exchange began back in April, and encompassed exchanging both Ukrainian POWs and foreign nationals, captured by Russian forces.
“This was necessary to get results in freeing these 10 foreign citizens, to ensure the second deal went through,” the prince said.
“The second exchange happened only after these foreigners arrived to Saudi soil. Once this was confirmed, the second exchange took place.”
The official added that Saudi Arabia remains committed to “open dialogue” with all sides of the conflict.
“We think our relationship with Russia was useful here, for this deal, and could be helpful in the future,” he added.
“We think it’s important to keep our channel of communication open.”
On Sept. 21, Russia released 10 foreign nationals who were captured while fighting in Ukraine, including citizens of the United States, the UK, Sweden, Croatia, and Morocco.
On Sept. 22, Ukraine and Russia exchanged POWs, with 215 Mariupol defenders being swapped for 55 Russian soldiers and Viktor Medvedchuk, a fugitive pro-Russian politician and personal friend of Russian dictator Vladimir Putin.
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