Wagswoofs – In a significant development, Russia and Ukraine carried out a historic prisoner exchange on Wednesday, releasing a large number of prisoners of war. This exchange marks the most substantial release of captives since the full-scale invasion by Russia in February 2022.
In a significant development, Ukrainian authorities have announced the successful repatriation of 230 Ukrainian prisoners of war. This marks the first prisoner exchange to take place in nearly five months, bringing hope and relief to the families and loved ones of those held captive.
According to the Russian Defense Ministry, a total of 248 Russian servicemen have been released as part of a deal facilitated by the United Arab Emirates.
The successful swap was attributed by the UAE Foreign Ministry to the strong and friendly relations between the UAE and both the Russian Federation and the Republic of Ukraine. These relations were supported by sustained calls at the highest levels.
Despite the launch of its invasion in 2022, Russia has managed to maintain strong economic ties with the UAE, despite facing Western sanctions and pressure.
According to Ukraine’s human rights ombudsman, Dmytro Lubinets, the recent prisoner exchange marked the 49th exchange to take place during the ongoing war.
A number of Ukrainians had been detained since 2022, including individuals who played crucial roles in pivotal battles for Ukraine’s Snake Island and the city of Mariupol.
No additional information was provided by Russian officials regarding the exchange.
Russia reported on Wednesday that it successfully intercepted and destroyed 12 missiles that were launched towards one of its southern regions bordering Ukraine. This incident comes as a blow to Kyiv’s forces, who are attempting to undermine the Kremlin’s narrative that life in the region continues as usual despite the ongoing conflict.
The regional Governor, Vyacheslav Gladkov, stated on Telegram that the situation in the border city of Belgorod, which experienced two rounds of shelling on Wednesday morning, is still tense.
“The air defense systems have proven effective,” he stated, assuring that he will provide further information on any potential damage once he examines the area later in the day. This announcement comes during Russia’s New Year’s holiday week.”
According to the Russian Defense Ministry, Ukraine launched a total of two Tochka-U missiles and seven rockets at the region on Tuesday evening. This was followed by an additional six Tochka-U missiles and six Vilkha rockets on Wednesday.
The Tochka-U missile system, which was originally built by the Soviet Union, boasts an impressive range of up to 75 miles. Additionally, its warhead has the capacity to transport cluster munitions.
Ukraine has received a number of cluster munitions from the United States. Additionally, both the Tochka-U and Vilkha have the capability to utilize their own cluster munitions.
In recent days, there has been a surge in attacks targeting the Russian side of the frontier.
During the war, Ukrainian artillery fire, rockets, mortar shells, and drones have sporadically targeted border villages. These attacks are launched from thick forests, making them difficult to detect.
In recent times, Ukrainian troops have been targeting the regional capital of Belgorod, located approximately 60 miles north of Kharkiv, Ukraine’s second-largest city, in response to Russia’s firing of missiles and drones at Ukrainian cities.
Belgorod, the largest city near the Russian border, has a population of around 340,000. It is easily accessible by various types of portable weaponry, including multiple rocket launchers.
A devastating attack on Russian soil claimed the lives of 25 people, including five children, in Belgorod on Saturday. This tragic incident marks one of the deadliest strikes since Moscow’s full-scale invasion. Shockingly, another civilian lost their life on Tuesday due to a new salvo.
Ukraine’s demonstration of its ability to retaliate against Russia by targeting Belgorod and causing disruptions in the city is a powerful statement. Despite being outnumbered and outgunned by the Russian military, Ukraine’s actions highlight its determination to fight back.
The strategy seemed to be working, as there were indications that the attacks were causing unease among the general public, politicians, and military experts.
In response to the Belgorod attacks by Ukraine, Putin expressed strong condemnation on Monday. He asserted that the intention behind these attacks was to instill fear and sow seeds of instability within Russia. Furthermore, he vowed to intensify the retaliatory measures as a response to this aggression.
When asked about civilian casualties in Belgorod by a soldier, Putin responded by saying that he too feels a simmering anger.
Russian military bloggers have been expressing their regret regarding Moscow’s withdrawal from the border area in September 2022, as Kyiv swiftly launched a counteroffensive. They argue that securing Belgorod and other border areas requires the seizure of more territory.
Russia portrays Ukrainians as “terrorists” who engage in indiscriminate attacks on residential areas, while asserting that Moscow only targets depots, arms factories, and other military installations. However, there is substantial evidence to suggest that Russia is indeed striking Ukrainian civilian targets.
Ukrainian officials seldom admit to being responsible for attacks on Russian territory.
Local officials reported that the city of Zeleznogorsk in a Russian border region experienced a brief power outage on Wednesday due to Ukrainian shelling.
Kursk Governor Roman Starovoit announced on Telegram that an aerial attack caused significant damage to an electricity substation in a city of 100,000 people in the Kursk region. As a result, authorities had no choice but to temporarily shut down the substation in order to carry out repairs.
According to him, the residents had no power or heat initially. However, electricity was restored in most of the city approximately two hours later.
In recent times, Russian forces have escalated their long-range assaults on Ukrainian cities, employing advanced Kinzhal missiles that can travel at speeds ten times faster than sound.
According to the U.K. Defense Ministry, it seems that the Kremlin’s forces are specifically focusing on Ukraine’s defense industry.
Kyiv officials have requested additional air defense support from their Western allies in response to the continuous onslaught.
NATO revealed on Wednesday its intention to assist member nations in the purchase of up to 1,000 surface-to-air Patriot guided missiles. This deal, estimated to be around $5.5 billion, could potentially enable alliance members to allocate more of their own defense systems to Ukraine.