Kyiv: Russian and Ukrainian Forces exchanged barrages of missiles and artillery that killed at least six people on Thursday, with both sides refusing to concede any ground despite Moscow’s recent military setbacks and the overrun country’s record after nearly seven months of war .
Russian missile strikes in the southern city of Zaporizhia killed one and injured five others, Ukrainian officials said. Officials in the separatist-controlled city of Donetsk said Ukrainian shelling killed at least five people.
Demonstrating that neither side was prepared to tone down or suspend the fighting, the exchange of fire took place hours after the two sides carried out a major prisoner swap and the day after the Russian President Vladimir Putin has called up reserve troops to supplement his forces.
Kyrylo Tymoshenko, the deputy in the Ukrainian president’s office, said a hotel in the central part of Zaporizhzhia had been hit and rescuers were trying to free those trapped in the rubble.
Zaporizhzhia region governor Oleksandr Starukh said Russian forces targeted nearby infrastructure and damaged apartment buildings. The region is one of four where Moscow-installed officials plan to hold referendums from Friday on joining 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 hit a covered market and a passenger minibus on Thursday.
Just hours before Thursday’s attacks, a high-profile prisoner swap saw 215 Ukrainian and foreign fighters swapped, including 200 for just one person, an ally of Putin. Kremlin Spokesman Dmitry Peskov did not confirm whether Putin’s only ally – pro-Russian Ukrainian opposition leader Viktor Medvedchuk – was part of the swap.
Among the freed fighters were Ukrainian defenders of a steel mill in Mariupol during a long Russian siege and 10 foreigners, including five British nationals and two American military veterans, who had fought with Ukrainian forces.
Video on the BBC news site on Thursday showed two of the freed British men, Aiden Aslin and Shaun Pinner, talking inside a plane. He said they arrived in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.
“We just want to let everyone know that we are now out of the danger zone and on our way back to our families,” Aslin said in the video, while Pinner added, “By the skin of our teeth.”
The speed with which the Russian missile attack came after the exchange suggested that the Kremlin was seeking to dispel any notion of weakness or waning determination to achieve its wartime goals in the wake of recent losses and setbacks in the field. battle that seriously undermined the aura of Russian military power.
Those losses culminated on Wednesday with Putin’s order to partially mobilize reservists to bolster his forces in Ukraine. The order drew rare protests in Russia and was derided in the West as an act of weakness and desperation.
The partial appeal lacked specifics, raising concerns about a broader scheme that has caused some Russians to rush to buy plane tickets to flee the country.
Peskov, the Kremlin spokesman, said the mobilization was necessary because Russia was “de facto facing the whole of NATO”, a reference to military aid and other support that members of the alliance have supplied to Ukraine.
A senior Kremlin official on Thursday repeated Putin’s threat to use nuclear weapons if Russian territory is attacked.
Dmitry Medvedev, deputy head of Russia’s Security Council, said on his messaging app channel on Thursday that strategic nuclear weapons were one of the options to protect Russian-held territories in eastern and southern Russia. Ukraine. The remark appeared to serve as a warning that Moscow could also target Ukraine’s Western allies.
Pro-Moscow authorities in Ukrainian regions controlled by Russia are preparing to hold referendums on integration with Russia – a move that could allow Moscow to escalate the war. Voting begins on Friday in Luhansk, Kherson, Zaporizhzhia and Donetsk regions.
Foreign leaders called the votes illegitimate and non-binding. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said it was a “sham” and “noise” to distract the public.
According to the governor of the Dnipropetrovsk region, Valentyn Reznichenko, one person was killed during a Russian shelling in the center of the city of Nikopol, across the river from the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant.
Zelenskyy’s office said five people had been killed by shelling in the Donetsk region over the past day.



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