Russia, Ukraine free POWs in Orthodox Easter Swap

Wagner Group Releases "Over 100"

Wagner Group founder Yevgeny Prigozhin announced Sunday that he marked Orthodox Easter Sunday by ordering more than 100 Ukrainian POWs freed, according to Reuters.

Per the Associated Press, Ukrainian presidential adviser Andriy Yermak confirms the Easter prisoner swap, with 130 Ukrainians and an unspecified number of Russian troops on their way home. Yermak says the exchange includes fighters captured by both sides in the area around Bakhmut, where both regimes report an uptick in the tempo of fighting as of Sunday.

While neither side seems to have seriously considered an all-out Easter truce, after Ukraine rejected Putin’s proposed 36-hour Christmas truce, large prisoner exchanges are always a good sign that could presage more wide-ranging negotiations.

Russian president Vladimir Putin celebrated Easter in midnight services at Moscow’s Christ the Savior cathedral, lauding the Moscow Patriarchate’s charitable work “in the face of serious challenges.”

Easter celebrations in Ukraine were more subdued than in Moscow, as Russian forces bombed a church in Zaporizhzhia oblast overnight.