Russia blames Ukraine for stalling prisoner swaps

In comments to Russia’s state Interfax news agency on Wednesday, Commissioner Tatiana Moskalkova blamed Kyiv authorities for roadblocking efforts to secure the release of additional POWs held by each side.

Russia’s human rights commissioner has alleged that Ukraine is making “far-fetched demands” that are preventing further exchanges of prisoners of war between the two warring nations.

In comments to Russia’s state Interfax news agency on Wednesday, Commissioner Tatiana Moskalkova blamed Kyiv authorities for roadblocking efforts to secure the release of additional POWs held by each side.

She did not specify what demands from Ukraine were stalling the prisoner swap negotiations. Ukrainian officials had no immediate response to Moskalkova’s accusations.

The latest trade of captives occurred in early February when Russia and Ukraine exchanged 200 POWs each, marking the 51st prisoner exchange since the full-scale invasion began, according to Kyiv’s estimates.

Ukraine says over 3,000 of its servicemen have been repatriated so far from Russian custody, with Moscow reporting a similar number freed on its side. The two nations have followed a one-for-one exchange formula.

POW exchanges have been one of the few areas of cooperation between the bitter enemies since Russia’s invasion last February. Both sides have accused the other of torturing prisoners and subjecting them to inhumane conditions.

Previous releases have involved painstaking negotiations, often facilitated by third parties like Saudi Arabia or Turkey providing security guarantees.

Moskalkova’s allegations suggest those negotiations have stalled amid escalating recriminations over the treatment of POWs as the war grinds on with no end in sight.

Valery Kartavtsev, a member of Russia’s POW coordination headquarters, told Interfax “mutual inspections” were still underway but gave no details on impediments to the exchanges resuming.

With casualties mounting, securing the release of prisoners has taken on heightened significance for both Moscow and Kyiv amid widespread fears of potential abuse. Whether new talks can regain momentum remains uncertain.