Feb 04, 2023 at 6:36 PMUpdate: 2 minutes ago
NU.nl regularly gives you an overview of the situation in Ukraine. With this time: Russia and Ukraine have exchanged dozens of prisoners of war. In addition, the southern Ukrainian port city of Odesa is without power due to “major problems” with the electricity grid.
Both countries agreed on Saturday to exchange prisoners of war. As a result, 116 Ukrainians are allowed to return to their homeland. The same goes for 63 Russians.
The Ukrainian prisoners of war fell into Russian hands while defending the hard-fought Mariupol in the southeast of the country. There are also Ukrainians who fought in the battle for Kherson and Bakhmut.
The Russian Defense Ministry says that among the released Russians are people from a “sensitive category”, without explaining this further. Their release was negotiated by the United Arab Emirates (UAE).
In addition to the POWs, Ukraine recovered the bodies of two British aid workers. They were killed in January while helping to evacuate civilians in the eastern Donetsk region.
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Odesa without power due to electricity problems
The port city of Odesa has been without power since Saturday due to “major problems” with the electricity grid, Ukrainian Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal reported. “The situation is difficult and the scale of the incident is significant,” he said. “It is not possible to restore electricity supply in the short term, especially for critical infrastructure.”
According to Shmyhal, the electricity substation in Odesa has been hit several times with Russian missiles, causing significant damage to the station. Whether that is the reason for the problems on Saturday is not entirely clear.
What is clear is that the outage could cause major problems for the region. In the port city on the Black Sea it is currently 2 degrees. The temperature is expected to drop below freezing in the coming week.
Shmyhal reports that a solution is being worked on. The priority is to restore electricity to critical infrastructure and to the people who need power to heat their homes.
Westen supplies missiles and air defense systems
Meanwhile, Western countries continue their efforts to supply arms and defense equipment to Ukraine. The United States promised on Friday evening to deliver missiles to Ukraine with longer range than those sent so far.
These are so-called Ground-Launched Small Diameter Bombs (GLSDB), which can hit targets at a distance of 150 kilometers. That is almost twice the number of Himars missiles that have been sent so far.
France and Italy also pledged last night to jointly deliver an air defense system to Ukraine in the spring. The so-called Mamba system can track dozens of targets and intercept ten at a time. It is the only European-made system capable of taking ballistic missiles out of the sky. The Ukrainian Defense Minister had specifically requested this mobile surface-to-air missile system.
France had already announced earlier this week that it would send a further 12 Caesar howitzers and an air-surveillance radar to Ukraine. Paris has not yet promised modern Leclerc battle tanks.
Western aid to Ukraine is crucial in the fight against Russian aggression. In recent weeks, that aid has been further intensified, partly thanks to the delivery of Patriots that various countries, including the Netherlands, have promised.
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