HomeLatest NewsDespite the prisoner swap, hostilities in Ukraine have not stopped

Despite the prisoner swap, hostilities in Ukraine have not stopped

KYIV: Russian and ukrainian Forces exchanged missile and artillery barrages that killed at least six people on Thursday as both sides refused to concede any ground despite recent military setbacks for Moscow and the toll on the invading country after nearly seven months of war.
Missile attack on southern Russian city Zaporizhzhya Ukrainian officials said one person was killed and five others were injured. Officials in the separatist-controlled city of Donetsk said at least five people were killed in Ukrainian shelling.
Demonstrating that neither side was ready to slow down or stop fighting, the exchange of fire came hours after the two sides held a major prisoner swap and a day after Russian President Vladimir Putin called in reserve troops to supplement his forces.
A hotel in the central part of the city of Zaporizhia was hit and rescuers were trying to free people trapped in the rubble, said Kyrillo Tymoshenko, a deputy in Ukraine’s presidential office.
Oleksandr Staruk, governor of the Zaporizhia region, said Russian forces targeted infrastructure facilities and damaged nearby apartment buildings. The region is one of four where Moscow-installed officials plan to hold a referendum from Friday on whether to become part of Russia, but the city itself remains in Ukrainian hands.
Meanwhile, the mayor of the separatist-held city of Donetsk, Alexei Kulemzin, said at least five people were killed Thursday when Ukrainian shelling hit a covered market and a passenger minibus.
Just hours before Thursday’s attack, a high-profile prisoner exchange saw 215 Ukrainian and foreign fighters exchanged – 200 of them for a single man, an ally of Putin. Kremlin Spokesman Dmitry Peskov would not confirm whether the only Putin ally — pro-Russian Ukrainian opposition leader Viktor Medvedchuk — was part of the swap.
Among the freed fighters were Ukrainian guards at a steel plant in Mariupol during the long Russian siege and 10 foreigners, including five British citizens and two US military veterans, who had fought with Ukrainian forces.
A video released on the BBC News website on Thursday shows two British men, Aiden Aslin and Sean Pinner, talking inside a plane. It is said that they have reached Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.
“We just want to let everyone know that we’re out of the danger zone now and we’re going home to our family,” Aslin said in the video, with Pinar adding: “By the skin of our teeth.”
The speed with which the Russian missile attack came after the exchange suggests that the Kremlin was seeking to dispel any sense of weakness or waning resolve to achieve its war aims after recent battlefield losses and setbacks have severely diminished the aura of Russian military power.
The losses culminated Wednesday with Putin ordering a partial mobilization of his bodyguards to bolster his forces in Ukraine. The order sparked rare protests in Russia and was derided in the West as an act of weakness and desperation.
The partial call-up was short on details, raising concerns of a larger draft that has some Russians scrambling to buy plane tickets to flee the country.
Peskov, the Kremlin spokesman, said the mobilization was necessary because Russia was “facing all of NATO,” a reference to the military and other assistance that alliance members have given Ukraine.
A senior Kremlin official on Thursday repeated Putin’s threat to use nuclear weapons if Russian territory was attacked.
Dmitry Medvedev, the deputy head of Russia’s Security Council, said Thursday on his messaging app channel that tactical nuclear weapons are one of the options for defending Russian-controlled areas in eastern and southern Ukraine. The comment appears to serve as a warning that Moscow may also target Ukraine’s Western allies.
Pro-Moscow authorities in the Russian-controlled region of Ukraine are preparing to hold a referendum on whether to become part of Russia – a move that could allow Moscow to escalate the war. Voting began on Friday in Luhansk, Kherson, Zaporizhia and Donetsk regions.
Foreign leaders called the vote illegal and arbitrary. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said they were a “sham” and “noise” meant to mislead the public.
One person was killed during overnight Russian shelling in the city center of Nikopol, across the river from the Zaporizhia nuclear power plant, according to Dnipropetrovsk Region Governor Valentin Reznichenko.
Zelensky’s office said five people were killed in shelling in the Donetsk region in the past day.

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