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Iran Press TV

Ukraine rejects reports of prisoner swap deal with Russia

Iran Press TV

Fri Aug 30, 2019 06:10AM

Ukraine's presidential office has rejected press reports of a prisoner exchange deal between Kiev and Russia, noting that talks on the swap agreement are still ongoing.

The office of Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy announced on Friday that no prisoner exchange had taken place with Russia yet.

Earlier, a social media post by Ukraine's prosecutor general said the exchange of the captives had been completed.

"The process of the prisoner swap is ongoing. Information that it has been completed is untrue," said the presidential office in a statement.

It coincided with a report by Russia's Interfax news agency, citing a source in Moscow who denied that an exchange had taken place.

The prosecutor had claimed in a Facebook post earlier on Friday that Ukrainian filmmaker Oleg Sentsov convicted by Moscow in 2015 on terrorism charges and Ukrainian sailors captured last November after violating Russian territorial waters near Crimea had boarded flights back home following the completion of a swap deal.

The head of the Ukrainian office of Russian state media outlet Ria-Novosti, Kirill Vyshinsky, is reportedly to be released as part of the swap deal.

According to press reports, citing the prosecutor general's office, Vyshinsky has signed a document confirming his release.

Vyshinsky has been arrested on charges of treason and accused of supporting pro-Russia fighters in eastern Ukraine battling government forces for independence.

Moscow has insisted that the case against the Russian journalist is political and welcomed his release.

Western-backed Ukrainian military forces have been battling pro-independence forces in the Donbass region of eastern Ukraine since 2014, in a conflict that has claimed more than 13,000 lives.

Sporadic fighting between the two sides persists despite a ceasefire agreement.

The reports of the prisoner swap come two days after an official visit to Ukraine by US President Donald Trump's hawkish national security adviser, John Bolton, who reportedly told Kiev to avoid being lured into China's orbit.

Bolton reportedly cited what he described as Beijing's "debt diplomacy" amid reported Chinese plans to purchase a Ukrainian aerospace giant.

"We laid out our concerns about ... unfair Chinese trade practices, threats to national security we've seen in the United States," Bolton said at a news conference in Kiev.

Washington remains entangled in a major trade war with Beijing whose rapid technological advances and the global clout of its technology giant Huawei have alarmed the United States.

Beijing Skyrizon Aviation Industry Investment signed a deal in 2016 to acquire a stake in Motor Sich, but the deal was blocked by the Ukrainian security service.

Washington regards Ukraine as an ally on the front line of its geopolitical clash with Russia.

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