The Latest Prisoner Exchange Confirmed That There Is a Civil War in Ukraine

On April 16th there was a new exchange of held persons between the L/DPR and Ukraine. For the Ukrainian authorities it is simply PR to maintain the illusion of an approval rating, and for the Republics it is the return of their people. Sergey Lebedev wrote for “Pikinform” about the difference of approaches towards the exchange, about the next exchanges, and about the attitude of the Ukrainian government towards its citizens.

Ukraine today gave away held persons in exchange for prisoners. Although, to be honest and to call things by their names, Ukraine gave hostages instead of militants and terrorists. What could “held persons” mean? There are prisoners, and Ukraine has handed over several. One of them is a local guy from Gorlovka. It is noteworthy that after he was captured, the Ukrainian press broadcasted across its entire territory that a “representative of Russian armed groups” had been captured.

The fact that there is a civil war in Ukraine, not some mythical invasion, is understandable even for the weakest mind. The hot phase of this war is taking place in Donbass, but I would not be revealing a secret if I wrote that Ukrainian nationalists are waging war against the entire Russian population of Ukraine. And this, according to inquiries on search engines, is almost 80% of Ukrainian citizens.

Through the exchange we can see who is actually fighting against whom. Often Ukrainians write to me in comments – “In Donbass thee are Russian troops, it is direct aggression and we are fighting in Donbass against Russia”. I just post prisoner exchange lists for them in response. It turns out that Ukrainian citizens are being exchanged for other Ukrainian citizens. Sometimes there are citizens of the Russian Federation, and they are clearly not military men, but more often volunteers, who, owing to naivety, were caught at roadblocks. There are Russians who simply lived in Ukraine, like Evgeny Mefedov. I do not remember that Ukraine brought for an exchange Pskov paratroopers or those who, according to some particularly gifted Ukrainian journalists, are fighting here.

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Today Ukraine received 9 citizens from the DPR and 11 citizens from the LPR, and gave the Republics 14 people, two of whom are citizens of the Russian Federation, who don’t like military personnel even from a distance. Through the exchange of prisoners, a total of 34 persons were released. They still have 14 days to serve in quarantine, but it’s much better than being in prison indefinitely for a long time.

However, the Ukrainian side, as is customary, “forgot” or gave up on judicial clearing… In the signed documents, the paragraph that the exchanged persons undergo full judicial clearance is specified separately. The documents are signed by the Ukrainian side, but somehow it turns out that to believe the Ukrainian side is to deceive oneself. Republican ombudsmen are not naive Chukchi girls and are well aware that the Ukrainian side will have to be constantly pressured to fulfil what it promised to do.

Vladimir Zelensky allowed a large-scale exchange of prisoners and detainees with Donbass after the end of the quarantine that was imposed due to coronavirus. The exchange of prisoners was one of the few areas in which the parties to the conflict were able to establish a more or less productive dialogue. However, the further demilitarisation of the front line, the political settlement, and the rest of the Minsk Agreements remain in limbo.

Some breakthrough was recently envisaged in the context of the establishment of the Advisory Board to the Minsk Contact Group. But at first Kiev began to manoeuvre, claiming that it interpreted the signed agreement not at all as written on paper, and then it turned out that France and Germany were not in a hurry to voice their position. Paris and Berlin must send their representatives to the Council, but they do not publicly comment on the proposal.

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It is suspected that the participants of the Normandy Four are worried about the legalisation of the DPR and the LPR through the Advisory Council. I.e., Kiev, when it signed, did not worry, but they worry. Before our eyes, mediators are becoming something more.

In principle, this is understandable – it was with the instigation of the West that a nationalist coup took place in Ukraine. As they say – mince cannot be unminced, but recognition of the DPR and LPR as a party to the conflict will fundamentally change the whole approach to the case. Firstly, it will be necessary to recognise the complete absence of “Russian aggression” and to lift sanctions. Secondly, it will have to be recognised that Ukraine has another, no less legitimate government than the one in Kiev. This will open the door for official appeals by representatives of the Republics to various international organisations, including the courts.

Let’s in the meantime not imagine or dream, anyway we will achieve our goal. I would like to hope that Republican officials will treat people who have experienced Ukrainian captivity more fairly. It is clear that the war is now also a pandemic, but they are HEROES. And they became heroes long before most Republican officials sat in their chairs.

Sergey Lebedev

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