Russia. Ukraine leaders eye new talks after prisoner swap

Reporters surround Ukrainian film director Oleg Sentsov (R) as he hugs his daughter Alina Sentsova (2R) after he disembarked from a plane on September 7, 2019 at Boryspil international airport in Kiev after a long-awaited exchange of prisoners between Moscow and Kiev, a day after Russian President said for the first time the “large-scale” prisoner exchange with Ukraine was being finalised. Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky hailed a prisoner exchange with Russia, on September 7, 2019, as the first step towards ending the war in Ukraine’s east and returning territory annexed by Moscow. Sergei SUPINSKY / AFP

Russian President Vladimir Putin and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky have discussed holding new peace talks after a landmark prisoner exchange.

Their offices said Putin and Zelensky spoke by phone late on Saturday after the long-awaited swap of 70 prisoners.

Zelensky’s office said both leaders were “satisfied with the result of the implementation of the agreements” on the exchange.

“The presidents of the two countries also agreed to discuss in the near future the date of holding a summit within the framework of the Normandy format” which also includes France and Germany.

The Kremlin said the prisoner exchange had “major significance” for the improvement of bilateral ties and that the two sides had agreed to remain in contact.

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Putin stressed the importance of conducting preparations for a new summit.

Efforts have intensified to ease tensions between Moscow and Kiev since Zelensky’s election in April.

French President Emmanuel Macron has called for a summit of the leaders of Ukraine, Russia, France and Germany this month.

Among the prisoners swapped were 24 Ukrainian sailors, Ukrainian filmmaker Oleg Sentsov and Russian-Ukrainian journalist Kyrylo Vyshynsky.

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