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Russia has stopped exchanging POWs because it wants Ukrainian families to think their country is abandoning their loved ones, official says

Russia has stopped exchanging POWs because it wants Ukrainian families to think their country is abandoning their loved ones, official says
A group of captured Russian soldiers in a prison in Western Ukraine
A group of captured Russian soldiers lining up at a prison in western Ukraine on April 18, 2023.Getty Images
  • Russia has stopped prisoner of war swaps since August, a Ukrainian official said.

  • It wants Ukrainian families to think their country has left loved ones behind, Dmytro Lubinets said.

  • Ukraine will "fight" to bring back every single one of them, the human rights ombudsman said.

Russia has stopped exchanging prisoners of war with Ukraine because it wants Ukrainian families to think their country is not doing anything to bring their loved ones back home, an official said.

Dmytro Lubinets, the Ukrainian Parliament Commissioner for Human Rights, made the claim in a Telegram post on Thursday.

He said Russia is refusing to swap POWs so "relatives of the defenders believe that the Ukrainian authorities aren't doing anything to return the soldiers," per a translation provided by the Kyiv Post.

However, he added that Ukraine will not let their POWs down and will "fight" for every single one of them, according to the outlet's translation.

Since August, Russia has not swapped a single POW, Petro Yatsenko, the spokesperson for Ukraine's Coordination Center for the Treatment of Prisoners of War, told the US-funded Current Time TV channel last month.

The last swap was held on August 7, when 22 Ukrainian POWs were released, Yatsenko said.

Lubinets said in another Telegram post, published last Sunday, that he had written to Russian authorities five times in recent months without a reply.

In a Facebook post on Thursday, Lubinets also said he had paid a visit to 119 Ukrainian POWs held in Russia, to make sure it was providing food, sanitary aid, and the right to work in compliance with international law.

A dozen former Ukrainian POWs told the BBC in August that they were beaten, given electric shocks, and not given enough food while held in Russian captivity.

Russian POWs have also said they were stabbed or given electric shocks by members of the Ukrainian armed forces, according to a report by the UN's Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights.

According to the Geneva Convention, prisoners of war must be treated "humanely" and "at all times be protected, particularly against acts of violence or intimidation and against insults and public curiosity."

Russia may also be planning to deploy a battalion of Ukrainian POWs to the front lines "in the near future" in what could be a violation of international law, the Institute for the Study of War reported last month.

The Geneva Convention says that no POW may be sent to or held in a location where they may be exposed to fire from the fighting zone.

Almost 2,600 Ukrainian POWs had been returned from Russia as of September 8, Ukraine's military intelligence spokesman, Andriy Yusov, told Espreso TV. It is not clear how many Russians have been returned.

Read the original article on Business Insider