A woman illuminates the street with a flashlight during a power outage in kyiv, Ukraine, on Feb. 3, 2023. (AP Photo/Evgeniy Maloletka)
kyiv, Ukraine (AP) — Dozens of Russian and Ukrainian prisoners of war have returned home after a swap, officials from both countries said Saturday.
Ukraine’s top presidential adviser, Andriy Yermak, reported in a Telegram post that 116 Ukrainians were released.
Among the released prisoners were soldiers who held out in Mariupol during the long siege by Moscow troops that reduced the southern port city to rubble, as well as guerrillas from the Kherson region and snipers captured during fierce ongoing battles for the eastern city of Bakhmut.
For their part, Russian defense officials announced that 63 Russian soldiers had returned after the swap, including some “special category” inmates, whose release was achieved thanks to the mediation of the United Arab Emirates.
The statement issued on Saturday by the Moscow Defense Ministry did not provide further details about the “special category” prisoners.
At least three civilians have been killed in Ukraine in the past 24 hours in Russian attacks on nine regions in the south, north and east of the country, regional governors told state television on Saturday morning.
Two people were killed and 14 others injured in the eastern province of Donetsk as a result of shelling and missiles by Kremlin troops, its governor, Pavlo Kyrylenko, said in a Telegram post on Saturday.
The death toll included a man who was killed on Friday in a Russian attack on Toretsk, a town in Donetsk. Seven more people suffered injuries in that incident. According to Kyrylenko, 34 houses, two kindergartens, a clinic, a library and a cultural center, among other buildings, were damaged.
Seven teenagers suffered shrapnel injuries after an antipersonnel mine exploded Friday night in the northwestern city of Izium, Governor Oleh Syniehubov said on Telegram. All were hospitalized, but their lives were not at risk, he added.
In addition, Ukrainian regional officials reported Russian nightly shelling of border towns in the northern province of Sumy and in the town of Marhanets, near the Zaporizhia nuclear power plant. kyiv has long accused Moscow of using the plant, which was seized by Russian troops at the start of the war, as a base to launch attacks on Ukrainian-controlled territories across the Dnieper river.
Meanwhile, Ukraine’s Black Sea port Odessa and surrounding areas fell into darkness after a large-scale grid failure, the country’s grid operator reported.
Ukrenergo said in a Telegram update that the fault included equipment “repaired several times” after Russia’s savage attacks on Ukraine’s power grid, and that residents should prepare for lengthy blackouts.
“Unfortunately, the scale of the accident is quite significant and, at this time, the power supply restrictions will be longer. It is not yet possible to determine a specific time for when (power) will be fully restored,” the company said.
Prime Minister Denys Shymhal said the energy ministry will send “all the power generators it has in stock” to Odessa “within 24 hours” and that both the energy minister and the head of Ukrenergo were on their way to Odessa to oversee the repair work.
Joanne Kozlowska in London contributed to this report.
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