Ukraine marks 9 months of war as regions recover from missile strikes
Ukraine on Thursday marked exactly nine months since the start of Russia's brutal invasion, as parts of the country continued to recover from a barrage of Russian missile strikes the day before.
Driving the news: Russian strikes on Wednesday targeted critical infrastructure facilities across Ukraine, causing massive blackouts throughout the country and even in neighboring Moldova.
- Ukraine's military chief Gen. Valeriy Zaluzhnyi wrote in a Telegram post Wednesday that Ukrainian forces successfully shot down 51 of the 67 Russian cruise missiles that were launched. Thirty rockets were "fired at Kyiv alone," he said, 20 of which were destroyed.
The big picture: Kyiv, which had suffered a suspension of its water supply on Wednesday, saw water restored to all districts of the city Thursday, Kyiv Mayor Vitali Klitschko confirmed in a Telegram post, though he cautioned that "some consumers may still experience low water pressure in the system."
- "70% of the capital still remains without electricity," Klitschko wrote on Telegram on Thursday morning.
- Kyiv residents queued in lines at public water points Thursday to fill up plastic bottles, AP reported.
- In his nightly address Thursday, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky provided updates on efforts to restore water and electricity in several regions in the country and vowed that utility workers would work "round the clock" to ensure all regions are reconnected.
- Water, heat and electricity were restored in the city of Lviv, with regular planned blackouts continuing, the city's mayor, Andriy Sadovyi, wrote on Telegram on Wednesday night.
- The energy situation in the Zaporizhzhia region had "stabilized," regional Gov. Oleksandr Starukh wrote in a Telegram post Thursday.
State of play: Authorities have opened so-called "points of invincibility" across Ukraine, where residents can gather to get warm, eat a hot meal and access working electrical outlets and internet connections.
- As of Thursday afternoon, 4,362 points of invincibility were open across Ukraine, Kyrylo Tymoshenko, the deputy head of the president's office, wrote in a Telegram post.
Russia and Ukraine on Thursday announced a successful prisoner of war exchange, with each exchanging 50 prisoners.
- Russia's Defense Ministry confirmed that Ukraine had released 50 Russian soldiers, the Guardian reported.
- "Today, 50 Ukrainian soldiers were returned from Russian captivity," Andriy Yermak, Zelensky's chief of staff, tweeted Thursday.
What they're saying: "Today is exactly 9 months from the day when Russia started a criminal and unprovoked full-scale war against Ukraine," Zelensky said in an address to the OSCE parliamentary assembly Thursday.
- "Our country is showing unprecedented bravery by destroying the army of the occupier, who was bragging that he was allegedly the second most powerful in the world," he added.
- "In nine months of its full-scale invasion, Russia has killed and injured hundreds of our children, kidnapped thousands of them, and made millions of children refugees," Ukraine's Defense Ministry tweeted Thursday.
The other side: Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov said Thursday at a briefing that Ukraine's leadership has "every opportunity to bring the situation back to normal" by meeting Russia's demands to resolve the war and therefore "end all possible suffering among the population," Reuters reported.