Some 700 Ukrainian servicemen and more than 1,000 civilians are being held captive by Russian occupation forces, said Ukrainian Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Reintegration of Temporarily Occupied Territories Iryna Vereshchuk.

“More than 1,000 civilians are held captive by the Russians, more than 500 of them are women. We will not exchange the military for civilians, as this is prohibited by the Geneva Convention. We demand the unconditional release of our civilians. As for the number of prisoners, we have an approximate parity; we have about 700 of their prisoners of war and they have about 700 of our soldiers,” Vereshchuk said.

She stressed that the Russian army does not fully comply with the Geneva Convention, relative to the treatment of prisoners of war. They are exchanged selectively and attention is not paid to the lists provided by the Ukrainian side.

The Deputy Prime Minister called on all relatives of the prisoners to be patient and strong.

As a reminder, several exchanges have been held in Ukraine so far. The largest one took place in the Zaporizhzhia region on 1 April. Some 86 Ukrainian servicemen were released from occupier captivity. The Ukrainian authorities are currently working to free 169 National Guard servicemen captured by the Russian occupiers at the Chornobyl Nuclear Power Plant.

Bohdan Marusyak

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