Foreign Minister Heiko Maas issued the following statement today (7 September) on the exchange of prisoners between Ukraine and Russia:
The exchange of prisoners between Ukraine and Russia is giving momentum to the implementation of the Minsk agreements. In the Normandy format – together with France – we have worked hard to encourage steps to build confidence. We are therefore pleased that such a step has now been taken. The fact that it also marks the implementation of the decision of the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea, allowing the 24 Ukrainian sailors to finally return to their families and loved ones after more than nine long months, sends a positive message. Moreover, we are greatly relieved about the release of Ukrainian film director and winner of the Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought Oleg Sentsov.
This step, coming shortly after the formation of the new, freely elected Ukrainian parliament and the assumption of office of the new Ukrainian Government, creates a good basis for further progress within the Normandy format. We want to help ensure that further measures are now rapidly set in motion so that the people in eastern Ukraine can finally live in peace once again.