Ukraine's president welcomes home prisoners of war freed under an exchange deal with pro-Russian separatists. Rough cut (no reporter narration).
ROUGH CUT - NO REPORTER NARRATION Petro Poroshenko, the Ukrainian president, was the first to welcome home dozens of prisoners of war at an airport in Kiev on Saturday (December 27), after agreeing an exchange of hundreds a day before with pro-Russian separatists. Video released by Ukraine's Presidential Press Service showed the president shaking the hands of those returning and embracing some, as they disembarked from the aircraft that had brought them back from captivity. A spokesman for President Petro Poroshenko said on Friday (December 26) that Ukrainian authorities and separatists were exchanging hundreds of prisoners of war, part of a 12-point plan aimed at ending the pro-Russian uprising in the east of the country. The agreement to swap 150 Ukrainian servicemen for 222 rebels followed peace talks between envoys of Ukraine, Russia, the separatists and European security watchdog Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) on Wednesday (December 24). The uprising by separatists began a month after Russia annexed the Black Sea peninsula of Crimea from Ukraine in March, following the popular overthrow of Ukraine's Moscow-backed president. The conflict has killed more than 4,700 people. Kiev's pro-Western government says Russia orchestrated the rebellion in Ukraine's east, a charge denied by Moscow. The peace protocol, agreed by Kiev and rebels in September, also includes a ceasefire. Most of the plan has not been implemented due to repeated violations of the ceasefire and because separatists defied Kiev by holding leadership elections. It is not known exactly how many prisoners are held by the two sides, but Ukraine's military said this month about 600 Ukrainians were in rebel hands. Roughly 1,300 people have been killed since the ceasefire was agreed in September, according to the United Nations, but the fighting lessened significantly in December. On Friday, however, the military said rebels had slightly stepped up their attacks on Ukrainian positions in the east and reported that a Ukrainian servicemen had been killed during the past 24 hours.