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No let-up in hostilities in Ukraine despite prisoner swap


KYIV: Russian and Ukrainians Forces exchanged missile and artillery barges that left at least six people dead on Thursday as both sides refused to make concessions despite recent military setbacks to Moscow and land damage. The country was invaded after nearly 7 months of war.
Russian missile attacks south of the city Zaporizhzhia Ukrainian officials say one person died and five others were injured. Officials in the separatist-controlled city of Donetsk said Ukrainian shelling had killed at least five people.
Proving that neither side was willing to ease or halt the fighting, the exchange took place hours after the two sides made a major prisoner swap and a day after the Russian President Vladimir Putin call reserve troops to replenish forces.
Kyrylo Tymoshenko, deputy office of the president of Ukraine, said a hotel in the center of Zaporizhzhia had been attacked and rescuers were trying to free people trapped in the rubble.
Zaporizhzhia region governor Oleksandr Starukh said Russian forces targeted infrastructure and also damaged nearby apartment buildings. The area is one of four places where Moscow-installed officials plan to hold referendums starting Friday on becoming part of Russia, but the city itself is in Ukrainian hands.
Meanwhile, the mayor of the separatist-controlled city of Donetsk, Alexei Kulemzin, said at least five people were killed when Ukrainian shelling on Thursday targeted a covered market and a minibus carrying guest.
Just hours before Thursday’s attack, a high-profile prisoner swap saw 215 Ukrainian and foreign fighters exchange – 200 of them for a single, Putin ally. Kremlin Spokesman Dmitry Peskov would not confirm whether Putin’s sole ally – pro-Russian Ukrainian opposition leader Viktor Medvedchuk – was part of the swap.
Among the released fighters were Ukrainians guarding a steel plant in Mariupol during a prolonged Russian siege, and 10 foreigners, including five British nationals and two former American soldiers who had fought in the war. against Ukrainian forces.
A video on the BBC news site on Thursday showed two of the released British men, Aiden Aslin and Shaun Pinner, talking inside a plane. It said they had been to Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.
“We just wanted to let everyone know that we’re now out of the danger zone and we’re on our way back home to our family,” Aslin said in the video, and Pinner added: “To the teeth.”
The speed with which the Russian missile strike occurred after the swap suggests that the Kremlin is seeking to dispel any notion of weakness or diminished resolve to achieve its war goals in the wake of the damage. Recent defeats and defeats on the battlefield seriously degrade Russia’s military power.
Those losses culminated on Wednesday when Putin ordered a partial mobilization of reserves to bolster his forces. Ukraine. The order sparked rare protests in Russia and was derided by the West as an act of weakness and despair.
The call was short on details, raising fears of a broader draft that left some Russians scrambling to buy plane tickets to flee the country.
Peskov, a Kremlin spokesman, said the mobilization was necessary because Russia “is facing practically all of NATO”, alluding to the military aid and other assistance that alliance members have provided. supply to Ukraine.
A senior Kremlin official on Thursday repeated Putin’s threat to use nuclear weapons if Russian territory was attacked.
Dmitry Medvedev, deputy chairman of Russia’s Security Council, said on his messaging app channel on Thursday that strategic nuclear weapons are one of the options for defending Russian-controlled territories in Russia. eastern and southern Ukraine. This comment seems to be intended to warn that Moscow may also target Ukraine’s Western allies.
Pro-Moscow authorities in Russian-controlled regions of Ukraine are preparing to hold referendums on becoming part of Russia – a move that could allow Moscow to escalate the war. Voting begins Friday in the Luhansk, Kherson, Zaporizhzhia and Donetsk regions.
Foreign leaders have called the votes illegal and non-binding. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said they were a “sham” and “noise” to distract the public.
According to the governor of the Dnipropetrovsk region, Valentyn Reznichenko, one person was killed in overnight Russian shelling in the city center of Nikopol, opposite the Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant.
The Zelenskyy office said five people were killed by shelling in the Donetsk region over the past day.





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