'Russia-Ukraine prisoner swap another example of Türkiye's important role'

Deal shows skill of Turkish diplomacy, utility in keeping communication channels open to both sides, says American analyst.

'Russia-Ukraine prisoner swap another example of Türkiye's important role'

The swap of 215 prisoners of war between Russia and Ukraine is "another example" of Türkiye's "important role" in the region, according to an American security and foreign policy expert.

"This latest prisoner swap is another example of Türkiye's important role in the region at trying to find peace and stability," Luke Coffey, a senior fellow at the Hudson Institute, a US-based think tank and research center, told Anadolu Agency.

"For geographical, economical, political and historical reasons, Türkiye sees itself as having a special role in the Black Sea region," Coffey said. "What we have seen with the grain deal and also Türkiye's outreach to both Moscow and Kyiv for peace talks is a great example of Türkiye's important role."

Matt Bryza, an analyst and former US diplomat, told Anadolu Agency that this prisoner swap is "another example of the skill of Turkish diplomacy and the utility in maintaining open communication channels to both sides."

Bryza, a senior researcher at the Atlantic Council, a Washington-based think tank, said Moscow will reach a point where it will need a mediator to end the war.

"There will come a time when President (Vladimir) Putin will accept what is already obvious – that Russia cannot win the war in Ukraine – and will therefore, at that point, want to de-escalate the conflict and will need a mediator," he said.

"And my sense is that even as President Putin has been threatening to escalate the conflict to the use of nuclear weapons, which is basic Russian military doctrine – the doctrine of escalating to de-escalate."

'Putin getting ready for mediation'

Despite the threat of escalation, however, Bryza thinks that Putin "is now sending signs that he realizes the situation is not going according to his plan, as he has falsely claimed throughout this invasion."

"He knows that the mobilization of 300,000 Russian men is deeply unpopular. And so I look at the release, especially of the five British prisoners and two American prisoners, as a sign that Putin is sending the first gentle signals that he's getting ready for mediation and Türkiye can play an important role in that," he said.

As both Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy and UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres have said, "this Turkish mediation has paid some very important benefits in a human sense or humanitarian sense," he added.

On Wednesday, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan announced that Russia and Ukraine had exchanged 200 prisoners as a result of Türkiye's mediation and diplomatic exchanges with the leaders of the two countries.

Zelenskyy confirmed the exchange of 215 Ukrainian soldiers in a video statement and thanked Türkiye for its role.

Meanwhile, Russia said 55 of its servicemen were released by Kyiv.

The exchange of another 10 prisoners of war between Russia and Ukraine was brokered by Saudi Arabia on Wednesday, where two Americans and five British citizens were released along with a Moroccan, a Croatian, and a Swedish national.

Hüseyin Demir

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