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Ukraine, Russia-backed rebels swap prisoners in budding peace effort

Ukrainian government forces and pro-Russia separatists have begun a prisoner exchange. The swap has been taking place at a checkpoint in the separatist stronghold of Donetsk as part of an agreement reached earlier this month between Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky and Russian President Vladimir Putin, and brokered by German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Emmanuel Macron. Ukrainian forces and separatists have been fighting in eastern Ukraine since 2014. The conflict has claimed more than 13,000 lives. Russia and Ukraine swapped prisoners last September, raising hopes of a wider settlement, but fighting continues, despite a ceasefire agreement.