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Russia, Ukraine Swap Detained Border Guards

Bohdan Martson and Ihor Dzyubak after their release

Russia has returned to Ukraine two of its border guards captured in October 2017, in exchange for two Russian border guards.

The swap took place on March 2 near the Hoptivka checkpoint along the Ukrainian-Russian border, Interfax-Ukraine reported.

Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko welcomed the news, writing on Facebook that Kyiv would continue to do “everything possible” to secure the release of other Ukrainian citizens either being held in Russia-backed separatist-controlled eastern Ukraine or in Russia.

Russia’s Federal Security Service (FSB) confirmed it had handed over two Ukrainian border guards, Ihor Dzyubak and Bohdan Martson, who went missing in October and later were reported to have been detained by Russian authorities for allegedly crossing the border illegally.

Kyiv handed to the Russian side two Russian border guards, Askar Kulub and Vladimir Kuznetsov, whom Ukrainian authorities detained in Ukraine's Kherson region in June. The Kherson region borders Crimea, the Black Sea peninsula that Russia seized in 2014 after sending in masked troops without insignia and staging a referendum considered illegitimate by Ukraine, the United States, and most of the international community.

Russian authorities have said that Kulub and Kuznetsov lost their way and crossed the border by accident.

With reporting by Interfax-Ukraine