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Ukraine-Russia war: Ukrainian prisoners, including key ally of Vladimir Putin, released

Prisoners of war from Russia, leave the military plane as they arrive at an unknown location in Russia following the prisoner exchange with Ukraine. (via REUTERS)Premium
Prisoners of war from Russia, leave the military plane as they arrive at an unknown location in Russia following the prisoner exchange with Ukraine. (via REUTERS)

  • Ukraine has sealed a major prisoner swap with Russia that includes handing over a key ally of President Vladimir Putin in return for leading defenders of Mariupol
  • Russia- Ukraine war has escalated with President Putin’s order to call 300,000 reservists to fight in Ukraine

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The war between Ukraine and Russia is witnessing new developments each passing day and the involvement of other countries in the war is becoming more evident. In the recent update, Ukraine sealed a major prisoner swap deal with Russia facilitated in part by Turkey and Saudi Arabia. The deal involves handing over a key ally of President Vladimir Putin in return for leading defenders of Mariupol.

More and more Russian citizens are coming forward to protest against the war. Vladimir Putin’s order to call up as many as 300,000 reservists to fight in Ukraine triggered protests around the country, the biggest since the early days of the war.

Earlier 215 soldiers were released by Russia in the prisoner swap with Ukraine. Ukrainian soldiers, including 108 defenders of the Azov battalion, were swapped for 55 Russian prisoners, Ukrainian and Russian officials said.

“This was the most difficult prisoner exchange," Ukraine's Interior Minister Denys Monastyrsky said. Saudi Arabia helped facilitate part of the swap, winning praise from western officials for the effort.

On the ground

Nearly seven months into the war, Russia declared a “partial mobilization" calling up 300,000 reservists in a major escalation of its flagging invasion of Ukraine.

Ukrainian forces conducted strikes north and east of the city of Kherson against Russian logistics, military, and transportation assets in the Kherson region, according to the latest report from the Washington-based Institute for the Study of War.

Russia hit Mykolayiv and Zaporizhzhia with 18 rockets early Thursday morning, according to the Mykolayiv region’s governor and Zelenskiy’s office. No casualties were reported.

People looking for refuge to flee the war

Russia is pushing ahead with its biggest conscription drive since World War II. Many Russians are protesting against the forced drafting of citizens to fight in the war, meanwhile, many are fleeing the country altogether.

The Finnish Border Guard has reported that the traffic arriving at Finland's eastern border with Russia "intensified" overnight and remained elevated into daytime hours on Thursday.

Finland shares a 1,300-km long border with Russia, which is the longest in the European Union. Finland is closely monitoring the situation in its neighbour after President Vladimir Putin's order of military mobilisation for the war in Ukraine, Defence Minister Antti Kaikkonen said on Wednesday.

Finnish land border crossings have remained among the few entry points into Europe for Russians after a string of Western countries shut both physical frontiers and their air space to Russian planes in response to Russia's invasion of Ukraine.

Hundreds detained across Russia in anti-draft protests

President Vladimir Putin’s order to call up as many as 300,000 reservists to fight in Ukraine triggered alarm and demonstrations.

Police officers detain demonstrators in Saint Petersburg following calls to protest against partial mobilisation announced by President Vladimir Putin
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Police officers detain demonstrators in Saint Petersburg following calls to protest against partial mobilisation announced by President Vladimir Putin (AFP)

Police detained about 1,400 people or protesting against the order in 38 cities Wednesday night, according to the OVD-Info monitoring group. This is said to be the biggest protest since the early days of the war.

Some of the male detainees were handed draft notices, while protesters may face criminal charges under the harsh laws against criticism of the war the Kremlin has imposed since the invasion of Ukraine on 24 February.

US pledges support for Ukraine as long as needed

The US will continue to support Ukraine “as long as it takes," Secretary of State Antony Blinken said in a statement.

Partial mobilization in Russia “reflects the Kremlin’s struggles on the battlefield, the unpopularity of the war, and Russian unwillingness to fight in it," he said.

(With inputs from agencies)

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