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Russian soldiers released from Ukrainian captivity – Defense Ministry

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Russian soldiers released from Ukrainian captivity – Defense Ministry.

Some 82 Russian servicemen were released from Kiev-controlled territories on New Year’s Eve as a result of negotiations, the country’s Defense Ministry announced in a statement on Saturday.

The POWs were facing “mortal danger in captivity,” the ministry added, in a post on Telegram.

“Russian Aerospace Forces’ aircraft will transport the released servicemen to Moscow for treatment and rehabilitation at medical institutions of the Russian Defense Ministry,” the military said. It added that the soldiers were also receiving the necessary psychological assistance.

The acting head of the Donetsk People’s Republic, Denis Pushilin, said on Telegram that in the latest of a series of such swaps, Russia and Ukraine exchanged 82 prisoners on each side.

Later on Saturday, Kiev confirmed the exchange. According to Andrey Yermak, chief-of-staff for Ukrainian President Vladimir Zelensky, “140 people are returning home,” including 82 soldiers from the country’s armed forces.

132 men and eight women, 22 officers and 118 sergeants and soldiers,” he announced in a post on social media.

Saturday’s swap marks the third this month. The previous exchange was reported by the Russian military on December 6, when 60 servicemen were freed. Another 50 POWs returned from Ukrainian captivity on December 1.

Xi says Happy New Year to Putin

During a video call on Friday, the Russian president invited his Chinese counterpart to visit Moscow in the spring of 2023
Russian soldiers released from Ukrainian captivity – Defense Ministry
Russian soldiers released from Ukrainian captivity – Defense Ministry

Chinese President Xi Jinping delivers a New Year address in Beijing, Saturday, Dec. 31, 2022. ©  Ju Peng/Xinhua via AP

Chinese President Xi Jinping has sent New Year greetings to his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin, Chinese state TV has reported. In his telegram to Xi, the Russian head of state, in turn, expressed confidence that cooperation between Beijing and Moscow will strengthen further in 2023.

According to a Chinese TV report, “PRC Chairman Xi Jinping and Russian President Vladimir Putin on December 31 exchanged congratulatory telegrams on the occasion of New Year.

On Friday, the two heads of state spoke via video link, and Putin invited his “dear friend” to visit Moscow in the spring of 2023.

The Russian president also sent messages to a host of other world leaders.

According to the Kremlin website, he congratulated the presidents and prime ministers of all former Soviet republics, except for the Baltic States, Ukraine, Moldova and Georgia. 

In Southeast Asia, the General Secretary of the Communist Party of Vietnam, Nguyen Phu Trọng and the President Nguyen Xuan Phuc, received telegrams from Putin.

The Russian president also congratulated India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi and President Droupadi Murmu.

Putin extended his congratulations to several European leaders, including the prime minister of EU member Hungary. In his telegram to Viktor Orban, the Russian head of state said that “despite a complicated international environment,” relations between Moscow and Budapest continue to show positive dynamics.

Addressing Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic, Putin expressed his hope that the two countries would keep developing bilateral ties “for the benefit of the fraternal peoples of Russia and Serbia.

In addition, Putin made a point of congratulating former German chancellor Gerhard Schroeder and former Italian prime minister Silvio Berlusconi, with whom he has long enjoyed personal friendships.

When asked whether the Russian president would send any messages to incumbent Western leaders, such as US President Joe Biden, French President Emmanuel Macron or German Chancellor Olaf Scholz, the Kremlin spokesperson replied in the negative on Friday.

We effectively don’t have any contacts with them,” Dmitry Peskov explained, citing “hostile actions” by those leaders with regards to Russia.

Meanwhile, in the Middle East and Western Asia, Putin’s congratulations went to Syrian President Bashar Assad and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

The Russian head of state also sent messages to the leaders of Brazil, Bolivia, Cuba, Venezuela and Nicaragua.

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