Ukraine conflict: Prisoner swap bolsters ''fragile ceasefire deal''

A week after a ceasefire agreement took effect, the Ukrainian government and pro-Russia separatists have reportedly swapped dozens of prisoners in east Ukraine.

ANI| Last Updated: Feb 22, 2015, 12:48 PM IST

London: A week after a ceasefire agreement took effect, the Ukrainian government and pro-Russia separatists have reportedly swapped dozens of prisoners in east Ukraine.

About 139 Ukrainian soldiers and 52 rebels were freed. The exchange is the first step carried out successfully under the terms of the recently forged Minsk truce deal, brokered by France and Germany, reported the BBC.

The rebels have also agreed to withdraw heavy weapons, another key point in the truce deal.

The move comes as the United States said that it was considering "serious sanctions" against Russia after the ceasefire agreement failed to hold in east Ukraine.
However, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said that sanctions would not solve the Ukraine conflict.

More than 5,700 people have been killed in the conflict that began last April and some 1.5 million people have been displaced, according to the United Nations.
The Ukrainian government, Western nations and Nato say that there was clear evidence that Russia was providing military support to rebels in east Ukraine, a claim that has been denied by Moscow.