Turkish leader Erdogan says Ukraine and Russia ‘agreed on the exchange of 200 prisoners’

20 September, 12:02 PM
Recep Tayyip Erdogan (Photo:REUTERS/Marko Djurica)

Recep Tayyip Erdogan (Photo:REUTERS/Marko Djurica)

Ukraine and Russia have been able to agree on the exchange of 200 prisoners of war, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said on U.S. television program PBS NewsHour on Sept. 19.

“I met with Putin in Uzbekistan, and we had a very extensive discussion,” Erdogan said. “And it seemed to me that he was ready to end the war as soon as possible.”

“That was my impression, because the way things are going now is quite problematic,” Erdogan went on.

“Two hundred prisoners will be exchanged by the agreement of the parties. I think that a significant step forward will be made.”

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The Turkish leader also criticized Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, saying that “no invasion can be justified.” He said that by the end of this war, Ukraine would fully restore its territorial integrity – including the Crimean peninsula, which has been under military occupation by Russia since 2014.

“If peace is established in Ukraine, the return of the occupied lands will become very important of course,” Erdogan said.

“This is what is expected. This is what you need. Putin has taken certain steps. We have taken certain steps. The occupied lands will be returned to Ukraine.”

A previous prisoner exchange with Russia took place in Donetsk Oblast on Sept. 2. Ukraine secured the return of 14 more of its defenders.

Among the released soldiers, ten people are from the 58th Separate Mechanized Brigade, and four more are from the 30th Motorized Brigade. In particular, Ukraine returned an officer and a military medic. These Ukrainian fighters were captured by the invading Russian forces in the spring.

On Aug. 6, Oleh Kotenko, Commissioner for Missing Persons under Special Circumstances, said that up to 25% of the more than 7,000 Ukrainian soldiers who were considered missing in July were held captive by the Russian invaders.

The Main Intelligence Directorate of the Ministry of Defense stated that Ukraine has enough captured Russians to carry out exchanges with Russia. However, the Russian side has little interest in exchanging certain groups of prisoners of war, the directorate said.

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