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Pope calls for prisoner exchange “all for all”; Ukraine responds: Russia doesn’t want it

Pope Francis calls for an “all for all” prisoner exchange between Russia and Ukraine in his traditional Easter address. Ukraine’s Coordination Headquarters for the Treatment of Prisoners of War responds that while they are ready, Russia is unwilling to repatriate its own people.
Ukrainian FM tells Pope: "Our flag is yellow and blue. No others will fly"
Pope Francis. Photo: Vatican news
Pope calls for prisoner exchange “all for all”; Ukraine responds: Russia doesn’t want it

The Pontiff delivered the traditional speech on the occasion of Catholic Easter, which this year fell on 31 March. Pope Francis mentioned the wars and conflicts in the world, in particular in Israel and Ukraine – the pope called for peace based on the principles of international law, Liga reports.

Calling for respect for the principles of international law, I express my wish for a general exchange of all prisoners between Russia and Ukraine – all for all,” the Pope said.

Ukraine’s Coordination Staff for the Treatment of Prisoners of War responded that Ukrainian officials have repeatedly expressed their readiness for a prisoner exchange based on the “all for all” principle, but Russia is unwilling to repatriate its own people. The staff stated,

“Ukrainian officials have repeatedly declared their readiness for an exchange of prisoners based on the principle of ‘all for all,’ but the aggressor country is not willing to return its people.”

On 10 January, the Ukrainian Ombudsman stated that as of today, a prisoner exchange between Ukraine and Russia in the “all for all” format is impossible because the aggressor state is not interested in it.

  • On 9 March, Pope Francis claimed that Ukraine should have the “courage” to raise the “white flag” and negotiate an end to the war with Russia.
  • On 10 March, Vatican Press Office Director Matteo Bruni clarified that the pontiff did not mean to suggest Kyiv’s capitulation. Ukrainian Foreign Minister Kuleba responded that Ukraine would not raise any flag other than its national flag and urged the pontiff not to repeat historical mistakes. The Papal Nuncio was summoned to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs on 11 March.
  • NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg rejected Pope Francis’ call for Ukraine to negotiate with Russia, emphasizing that capitulation is not peace and urging continued military support for Ukraine against Russian aggression.
  • On 20 March, Pope Francis once again advocated for Ukraine’s dialogue with Russia, the aggressor state.

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