A still image from video released by Russia’s Defense Ministry shows what are said to be Russian service personnel captured on a bus following the latest exchange of war prisoners at an undisclosed location during the Russia-Ukraine conflict This photo is from handout footage released on February 4, 2023.
Russian Defense Ministry | via Reuters
Dozens of Russian and Ukrainian prisoners of war have been returned home following a prisoner exchange, officials on both sides said on Saturday.
Andrey Yermak, a top Ukrainian presidential aide, said in a Telegram post that 116 Ukrainians had been released.
He said the released prisoners of war included soldiers who had been in Mariupol during the months-long siege of Moscow that left the southern port city in ruins, as well as guerrilla fighters from the Kherson region and those fighting for the eastern city of Bakhmut. Also included are snipers captured during the fierce fighting.
Meanwhile, Russian defense officials announced that 63 Russian servicemen had returned from Ukraine after the exchange, including some “special category” prisoners whose release was secured after mediation by the United Arab Emirates .
A statement issued on Saturday by the Russian Defense Ministry did not provide details about these “special category” detainees.
At least three civilians have been killed in Ukraine in the past 24 hours as Russian forces invaded nine regions in the south, north and east of the country, regional governors reported on Ukrainian TV on Saturday morning.
Russian shelling and missile attacks killed two people and wounded 14 others in Ukraine’s eastern Donetsk region, local governor Pavlo Kirilenko said in a Telegram update on Saturday morning.
One person was killed and seven others were injured after Russian missiles hit the town of Toretsk in the Donetsk region on Friday. Kyrylenko said 34 houses, two kindergartens, an outpatient clinic, a library, a cultural center and other buildings were damaged in the strike.
Local governor Oleh Sinihubov said on Telegram that seven teenagers were wounded by shrapnel after an anti-personnel mine detonated late Friday in the northeastern city of Izium. All of them are hospitalized but there is no threat to their lives, he said.
Elsewhere, regional Ukrainian officials reported overnight shelling by Russia of border settlements in the northern Sumy region, as well as the town of Marhanets, which neighbors the Zaporizhia nuclear power plant. Kyiv has long accused Moscow of using the plant, which was seized by Russian forces at the start of the war, as a base to launch attacks on Ukrainian-held territory across the Dnieper River.