Ukraine conflict: Zelensky plans frontline troop withdrawal

Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky plans to pull Ukrainian troops back all along the front line in the east, if Russian-backed rebels reciprocate.

The announcement came from his foreign minister, Vadym Prystaiko, on Ukrainian TV. Such a pull-back has already happened in one frontline village.

He also said he was hoping for another major prisoner swap with Russia, “literally next week”.

Mr Zelensky came to power promising to end the five-year conflict in the east.

Large parts of the Donbas region were seized by the Russian-backed separatists in April 2014, after Russia captured and annexed Ukraine’s Crimea region.

Sporadic exchanges of fire – mainly mortars and machine-gun bursts – continue along the 400km (249-mile) front line.

The separatist rebels remain defiant, warning Mr Zelensky that he cannot dictate terms for areas that they control.

Commenting on the prisoner swap proposal, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said “Russia would be glad to fulfil an ‘all for all’ exchange”.

A landmark prisoner exchange took place on 7 September, raising hopes for a lasting thaw.


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