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Russia-Ukraine prisoner swap mooted amid passport row

Friday, August 23, 2019

Significance

A deal would be a sign of success in bilateral engagement since President Volodymyr Zelensky came to power. This is not a breakthrough -- conflict resolution is still at a standstill. Yet it is especially significant as it suggests the ongoing battle over passports will not kill the peace process. Zelensky is offering Ukrainian citizenship to Russian nationals facing political persecution at home, in response to President Vladimir Putin's decision to fast-track passport applications from residents of rebel-held parts of eastern Ukraine.

Impacts

  • While a resumption in talks is more probable, progress depends largely on Putin's strategy and aims.
  • Zelensky's gesture applies only to a few hundred people so comes at little cost.
  • Any action by Kyiv to penalise DNR and LNR residents with Russian passports would only alienate them further.
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