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Ukraine Swaps Prisoners With Rebels as EU Imposes Russia Sanctions

DONETSK, Ukraine - Government and rebel forces early Friday exchanged dozens of prisoners captured during fighting in Ukraine, as part of a cease-fire agreement sealed earlier this month. The transfer took place in the dark outside the main rebel stronghold of Donetsk under the watch of international observers - the same day the European Union in Brussels imposed a new round of sanctions on Russia for its actions in Ukraine.

Thirty-six Ukrainian servicemen were released after negotiations and a further 21 soldiers were freed the day before, Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko said. Ukrainian forces handed over 31 pro-Russian rebels detained over the course of the five-month conflict. The group of Ukrainian servicemen was driven away from the local security services headquarters around 1:30 a.m. local time and taken to a location several kilometers north of the city. At the spot, they were met by Ukrainian military officials. The two sets of captives' handcuffs were removed as they were handed over. One representative from each side checked people being freed against a list and crossed out names as they were being released. Hundreds of prisoners are believed to be held by both sides, although no firm figure has been provided by either.

Thirty-six Ukrainian servicemen were released after negotiations and a further 21 soldiers were freed the day before, Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko said. Ukrainian forces handed over 31 pro-Russian rebels detained over the course of the five-month conflict. The group of Ukrainian servicemen was driven away from the local security services headquarters around 1:30 a.m. local time and taken to a location several kilometers north of the city. At the spot, they were met by Ukrainian military officials. The two sets of captives' handcuffs were removed as they were handed over. One representative from each side checked people being freed against a list and crossed out names as they were being released. Hundreds of prisoners are believed to be held by both sides, although no firm figure has been provided by either.

Fighting rages in Ukraine as truce talks begin 1:40

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- The Associated Press