Russia and Ukraine carried out the latest in a series of prisoner-of-war exchanges on Thursday, with both sides handing over 50 people, officials in Kyiv and Moscow said.
Russia’s defense ministry said Ukraine had released 50 Russian soldiers who had been captured.
Andriy Yermak, head of the Ukrainian presidential administration, said on Telegram that Ukraine received 48 soldiers and two officers, among them marines, infantrymen, border guards, and members of the territorial defense,
“We have managed to bring back 19 defenders of Mariupol … as well as 15 prisoners [of war] from the Chornobyl nuclear power plant and seven from Zmiiny Island,” Yermak said.
Denis Pushilin, the Moscow-backed head of the part of Ukraine‘s Donetsk region that is under Russian control, said earlier that a prisoner swap with Kyiv was taking place, involving 50 prisoners on each side.
Kyiv and Moscow have so far swapped over 1,000 prisoners of war since the beginning of the conflict in Ukraine in February.
Electricity has been restored in the southern Ukrainian city of Kherson after its liberation earlier this month from Russian occupation, a senior presidential aide said on Saturday.
“First we are supplying power to the city’s critical infrastructure and then immediately to household consumers,” Kyrylo Tymoshenko, deputy head of Ukraine‘s presidential administration, wrote on the Telegram messaging app.
The city had been without electricity, central heating, and running water when Ukrainian forces reclaimed it on Nov. 11.
Russian troops seized Kherson shortly after Moscow’s Feb. 24 invasion and it was the only regional capital they had managed to capture.
Their retreat marked a significant setback for Moscow but Ukrainian officials say Russian forces are still shelling the city from across the Dnipro River.
The head of the local administration said on Friday that 15 people had been killed and 35 wounded in the past six days.
Zelenskyy criticizes Kyiv mayor
In a rare public spat involving Ukrainian leaders, President Volodymyr Zelenskyy on Friday criticized the mayor of Kyiv for doing what he said was a poor job setting up emergency shelters to help those without power and heat after Russian attacks.
In the wake of crushing Russian missile strikes against the power-generating system, Ukraine has established thousands of so-called “invincibility centers” where people can access heat, water, internet, and mobile phone links.
In an evening address, Zelenskiy indicated that Kyiv Mayor Vitali Klitschko and his officials had not done enough to help.
“Unfortunately, local authorities have not performed well in all cities. In particular, there are a lot of complaints in Kyiv … To put it mildly, more work is needed,” he said, saying the level of services available in many Kyiv centers was not good enough.
“Please pay attention – the people of Kyiv need more support … a lot of (them) have been without power for 20 or even 30 hours. We expect quality work from the mayor’s office.”
Zelenskyy also criticized those who he said had lied in their official reports, but did not give details. More than 4,000 centers have been set up so far.
The remarks were unusual since Zelenskyy has sought to cultivate an image of national unity during the war and usually showers officials with praise.
Klitschko, a 51-year-old former professional boxer, was elected mayor of Kyiv in 2014. There was no immediate reaction from his office.
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