Kiev’s top spy reveals main intermediary with Russia — RT World News

Kirill Budanov said that the UAE has overtaken Türkiye as the leading mediator in prisoner exchanges

The head of Ukrainian military intelligence, Kirill Budanov, said that the UAE has emerged as a key mediator between Kiev and Moscow regarding the prisoner exchange. He also supported a proposal put forward by Pope Francis, who last month called for an exchange that would include all prisoners of war from the two countries.

Turkey was previously seen as the first mediator between Kiev and Moscow after the outbreak of the Ukrainian conflict in February 2022. The first attempt at peace negotiations took place in March of the same year in Istanbul. Russian President Vladimir Putin later said that the Ukrainian delegation initially agreed to a number of Moscow's conditions during the talks, but suddenly backed away from the agreement.

In an interview with German channel ARD published on Sunday, Budanov claimed that Ankara had stopped playing a central role in prisoner exchanges, and had been replaced by the United Arab Emirates. Commenting on the Pope’s initiative, the top Ukrainian spy said: “I'm all for it. Let's do it. There's only one small thing left to do: convince Russia.” According to the official, Moscow has shown no interest in such an exchange of prisoners of war.

The last publicly confirmed prisoner exchange between Kiev and Moscow took place in early February, when the Russian Defense Ministry reported that a total of 100 Russian prisoners of war had returned to their homeland as part of a deal brokered by the United Arab Emirates.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan told Russian media last September that his country was ready for this “Playing the role of mediator in issues such as prisoner exchanges.” As well as in potential peace negotiations.

Russia and Ukraine have not sat at the negotiating table since the failure of the talks in Istanbul. Moscow has repeatedly indicated its willingness to resolve the conflict through diplomacy. Moscow accused Ukraine and its Western supporters of rejecting any meaningful dialogue, saying that this left it no choice but to continue pursuing its goals on the battlefield.

According to what was revealed by David Arakhamiya, the chief Ukrainian negotiator in Istanbul, the then UK Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, pressured Kiev to withdraw from the talks at that time. Johnson strongly denied any role in obstructing the peace negotiations.

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