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Moscow and Kiev exchange more than 230 prisoners | War in Ukraine

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Ukrainian soldiers released by Russia during a prisoner exchange that took place last spring. (Archive photo)

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While the Ukrainians are struggling to repel the waves of Russian bombings which are becoming more and more intense, the two countries proceeded on Wednesday in the exchange of 230 prisoners of war, the 49th since the start of the Russian invasion.

In a press release from the Russian Defense Ministry, the Kremlin welcomed the repatriation of 248 soldiers while in Kiev, President Volodymyr Zelensky declared: more than 200 of our soldiers and civilians returned from Russian captivity.

According to Ukrainian Human Rights Commissioner Dmytro Loubinets, exactly 230 Ukrainian servicemen were exchanged. It is the largest in terms of the number of [Ukrainian] defenders repatriated, said the Ukrainian coordination center for prisoners of war.

Since February 24, 2022, 2,828 [Ukrainian] defenders have returned home!, said Mr. Loubinets.

According to Ukrainian media, the previous exchange of prisoners of war dates back to last August.

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According to Kiev and Moscow, Wednesday's exchange was made possible by a mediation of the United Arab Emirates, an important partner of Russia in several humanitarian, economic and energy issues.

There would still be thousands of prisoners of war on both sides. In recent months, Moscow has increased the number of trials to impose very heavy sentences on Ukrainian prisoners of war.

This exchange of prisoners is surprising given that the bombings have clearly intensified in recent weeks. Russian forces notably launched large waves of missiles and drones on major Ukrainian cities, killing dozens of civilians.

The Ukrainians also responded by bombing Russian towns and positions, but to a lesser extent.

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According to the Ukrainian general staff, Moscow fired nearly 160 devices, including cruise missiles and Shahed explosive drones, during the December 30 attacks last.

According to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, Russia has launched at least 500 missiles and drones against Ukraine over the past five days.< /p>

At least 32 people were killed in Kiev during this period, including 30 in a single attack on December 29, when Russia launched one of the largest air attacks seen in this war.

Nearly 60 people were also killed in the bombings across the country: in Kharkiv in the northeast, Zaporizhia in the south, Odessa on the southern coast, and even in Lviv in the south. far west.

It is clear that the Russian war effort is bearing fruit despite all the economic and technological sanctions imposed on Moscow.

In fact, Ukraine has not suffered such significant air attacks since the start of the Russian invasion.

They are still trying to find a better way to break our air defense systems and make their attack more effective, Oleksandr Musiyenko of the Ukrainian Military Research Center told the BBC.

However, Russian pressure is also being exerted on the Ukrainian front line where Moscow's forces are slowly gaining ground in recent weeks, forcing the strategic retreat of Ukrainian defenders in numerous positions along the front line.

According to the Institute for the Study of War (ISW), Russian ground forces are recording territorial gains in the north, particularly in the areas of Kupiansk, from Karmazynivka, from Ploshchanka and from Dibrova.

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The Ukrainian forces, who have adopted a more defensive strategy for the winter, have not made progress on the front for several weeks.< /p>

The Russians are also advancing further south, in the hotly contested Bakhmut sector, in the Kurdyumivka, Khromove and Bohdanivka sectors, according to observations compiled by the ISW.

Russian troops also advanced their positions in several sectors around Avdiivka as well as further south, in the Marinka sector. Russian forces have been trying for months to surround Avdiivka, an industrial town in Donbass where Ukrainian soldiers are holed up in fortified positions.

The situation is not much simpler for the Ukrainians in the Zaporizhia region, where the Russians have regained ground at Dorozhnianka, west of Verbove as well as 'north of Robotyne.

Although the areas taken by the Russians are overall limited, the observation that emerges more clearly from the ISW maps is the halt in the progression of the Ukrainian forces, who have adopted a significantly more defensive position since the start of winter. /p>

Meanwhile, President Zelensky is increasing calls for economic and military aid in the West, particularly in the United States, where the renewal of aid military support to Ukraine becomes more difficult to obtain as the conflict drags on.

In fact, new Western aid pledges are at their lowest since the start of the invasion due to political dissension in Europe and the United States, the German research institute Kiel noted in early December Institute.

The outlook is uncertain […] as the largest pending commitment – ​​from the European Union – has not been approved and US aid is declining , specifies the institute, which lists the military, financial and humanitarian aid promised and delivered to Ukraine since the start of the Russian invasion on February 24, 2022.

According to Ukrainian Prime Minister Denys Shmygal, Kiev needs US$37 billion in Western financial aid this year to keep its economy afloat in the face of global crisis. x27;Russian invasion.

The country received 42.6 billion US dollars in external financing last year, 27% of which were grants, Chmygal said, citing the EU, the United States, Japan, Canada , the United Kingdom, the IMF and the World Bank as the main economic supporters of Kiev.

Since the start of the Russian invasion, the Ukraine's allies and major international organizations (World Bank, IMF, etc.) have promised it the equivalent of 278 billion US dollars in aid, including 198 billion in the short term (already delivered or planned). within a year).

These commitments include $154 billion in financial aid, nearly $17.5 billion in #x27;humanitarian aid and 107 billion in military aid.

With information from Agence France-Presse, Reuters, BBC and Institute for the Study of War

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