Huge POW swap and Russia surrounds Lysychansk | NOW

Once a day, NU.nl gives you an overview of the situation in Ukraine. On Wednesday, the largest POW swap since the Russian invasion took place and NATO officially invited Sweden and Finland to join. The day started with the news that at least five people have died after Russian rocket attacks.

The deaths occurred in central and southern Ukraine. Eight rockets were fired at a residential area in the southern city of Mykolaiv, the mayor of that place said. Rescue workers found two bodies there while clearing the rubble.

In Dnipro, in the center of the country, dead have also been found after a rocket attack. The city was hit by a total of six rockets.

Russian army plans to surround strategic city of Lysychansk

According to the Ukrainian army command, the Russian army wants to surround the strategically located city of Lysychansk. The city is currently under siege mainly from the south. Lysychansk is the last major city in the eastern Luhansk region still under Ukrainian control.

Russia tries to take the road between Bakhmut and Lysychansk in an attempt to encircle the city. If they manage to take that road, the Russian army can invade the city from all directions.

Russia recently acquired the city next to Lysychansk Severodonetsk where there was heavy fighting for weeks.

Largest POW swap since the start of the invasion

Ukraine reports that 144 Ukrainian soldiers have been released in the largest POW swap since the Russian invasion. These include 95 defenders of the fiercely contested Azovstal factory complex in the southern Ukrainian port city of Mariupol. According to Ukrainian media, a large part of the released soldiers are injured.

144 Russian prisoners of war have also returned to Russia, a pro-Russian separatist leader reported. Most people from this group would also be injured and in urgent need of medical attention.

NATO officially invites Sweden and Finland to join

NATO has officially invited Sweden and Finland to join the alliance. Sweden and Finland decided last month that they want to join NATO as soon as possible. They think they are safer within the Western military alliance than with a neutral position outside it, since the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

After their decision, the two countries unexpectedly encountered resistance from Turkey. On Tuesday evening, Turkey gave that resistance op.

Turkey was skeptical about Finland and Sweden’s membership, because those countries would be too lenient towards the Kurdish resistance movement PKK. Turkey and the European Union consider the PKK a terrorist organization, but Sweden is said to be hosting alleged PKK members.

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