Dec. 29 (UPI) -- Ukraine's government and Russian-backed separatists swapped 200 prisoners Sunday in an effort to end a standoff in the Donbas region.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky's office confirmed on Twitter that 76 prisoners held by separatists had been returned to the government and representatives for the Luhansk and Donetsk regions of Ukraine said the government returned 124 separatist prisoners.
The prisoner exchange Sunday made good on promises in peace talks between Zelensky and Russian President Vladimir Putin in Paris at the beginning of December.
Nine people elected not to return to the separatists in Luhansk and four refused to return to the government in Kyiv.
The exchange took place at a checkpoint in east Ukraine, where violent conflicts following the Russian annexation of the Crimean peninsula in 2014 has resulted in more than 13,000 deaths.
Among those freed in the exchange were soldiers, activists, alleged spies and riot police officers accused of shooting protesters during the 2014 revolution.
The exchange was viewed as a victory for Zelensky, who was elected in April after campaigning to release Ukrainian prisoners and end the war.
The U.S. embassy in Kyiv issued a statement on Twitter praising the exchange.
"Recognizing that Russia's ongoing aggression confronts Ukraine's leadership with difficult choices, we stand in solidarity with our Ukrainian partners and the many Ukrainians who remain in captivity in Russia and Crimea," it said.