Russia-Ukraine Prisoner Exchange: Zelensky Caught Into Russian Trap

Russia-Ukraine Prisoner Exchange: Zelensky Caught Into Russian Trap

Written on 09/20/2019


 An actual prisoner swap between Ukraine and Russia is a PR success of Ukraine’s incumbent leader Volodymyr Zelensky, yet it is his Russian counterpart who won politically. The negotiating process of the prisoner exchange, how it was performed and the names of those who were meant to be freed eventually shed a negative spotlight on Ukraine.


  • The Kremlin de facto blackmails Zelensky who made a tremendous mistake when announcing his bid to quit the ongoing Ukrainian-Russian war by the end of this year. Ukraine’s leader therefore has fallen victim to the promises he had made and massive social expectations that followed suit. Portraying the prisoner swap as a prelude to further decisions to be taken to bring peace back to Ukraine’s Donbas will mean Russia’s pursuit for dictating a high price for such a scenario to take place.
  • With the September 7 exchange Moscow has to a great extent narrowed down negative consequences of two legal cases currently pending outside Russia and Ukraine, which are the ruling of the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea of May 25, 2019, ordering Russia to release Ukrainian seamen taken captive back in November 2018 and the probe into the downing of the Malaysia Airlines flight MH17.
  • While giving his go-ahead for the prisoner exchange, Putin sought to demonstrate his alleged readiness to make concessions in a move being to the liking to the countries of the West, with Germany and France at the helm. It is to be expected that both Berlin and Paris, especially the latter, will push Zelensky for making further concessions to Moscow. This, if combined altogether, makes the Ukrainian leader face a tough choice, drifting him either towards peace solutions at all costs (thus surrender), or a toughened stance on Russia, which is de facto a comeback to the policy adopted back then by his predecessors.


Photo source: PRESIDENT.GOV.UA

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