Poroshenko hails Ukraine 'warriors' freed by rebels

Petro Poroshenko (right) welcomes Ukrainian troops freed from captivity as they arrive at an airport near Kiev early on December 27, 2014Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko on Saturday welcomed home as heroes 145 soldiers freed by pro-Russian rebels during the largest prisoner swap of the eight-month separatist war. The Western-backed leader, beaming and wearing a black bomber jacket, walked up to the back cargo bay of a military transport plane that landed at a military airport outside Kiev in the dawn hours of Saturday to hail the men. “My heart as that of a president and citizen is brimming with joy that you — as I had promised — will be able to meet the New Year with your families and comrades and arms,” Poroshenko said as the released men huddled around him on the tarmac. Ukraine’s chronically underfunded army has been criticised heavily by the public for failing to stamp out a revolt that has claimed 4,700 lives and continues to threaten the former Soviet republic’s very existence.

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