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Russia appoints new military commander in Ukraine

Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu, left, and Chief of the Russian General Staff Valery Gerasimov attend the meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin during his visit to the joint staff of troops involved in Russia's military operation in Ukraine, at an unknown location in this Dec 17, 2022 file photo. Gerasimov was named the new chief of the Russian forces in Ukraine. (GAVRIIL GRIGOROV, SPUTNIK, KREMLIN POOL PHOTO VIA AP)

MOSCOW/ANKARA – Chief of the General Staff of the Russian Armed Forces Valery Gerasimov has been appointed the new commander of Russia's integrated group of forces in Ukraine, Russia’s defense ministry announced on Wednesday.

Gerasimov will succeed Sergei Surovikin, commander-in-chief of the Russian Aerospace Forces, who was appointed commander of Russia's integrated group of forces in the special military operation in Ukraine in October last year.

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Surovikin, Commander-in-Chief of the Ground Forces Oleg Salyukov, and Deputy Chief of the General Staff Alexei Kim have been appointed as Gerasimov's deputies, according to the ministry.

Russian and Ukrainian officials, at a meeting in Ankara, agreed on a new exchange of more than 40 prisoners

The decision was made due to the fact that a wider range of tasks will be implemented within the scope of the special military operation, the ministry said, adding that closer interaction will be required between branches of the forces, and the troops will need stronger support as well as more effective command and control.

Russia, Ukraine agree on prisoner swap

Officials from Russia and Ukraine met in Türkiye on Wednesday and agreed on a new exchange of more than 40 prisoners, Russian Human Rights Commissioner Tatyana Moskalkova said.

"We exchanged the lists of some military prisoners. We have decided to swap more than 40 prisoners," the semi-official Anadolu Agency quoted Moskalkova as saying after a meeting with her Ukrainian counterpart, Dmytro Lubinets, on the sidelines of an international ombudsman conference in the Turkish capital, Ankara.

According to Moskalkova, talks were held between the ombudsmen of Russia and Ukraine because there were no diplomatic ties between the two countries because of the ongoing conflict.

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Ukrainian army Grad multiple rocket launcher fires rockets at Russian positions in the frontline near Soledar, Donetsk region, Ukraine, Jan 11, 2023. (LIBKOS / AP)

"I asked Lubinets for help in bringing some Ukrainian citizens to their families in Russia. Those with serious illnesses also need the help of ombudsmen," she told reporters, adding humanitarian corridors do not work properly from time to time.

Ukrainian Ombudsman Lubinets helped in locating some Russian prisoners from his side, Moskalkova said.

Russia and Ukraine swapped 50 captured soldiers on Sunday.