SOURCE (Reuters original)
KYIV—Ukraine on Wednesday carried out its biggest exchange of prisoners of war since Russia invaded, securing the release of 144 of its soldiers, including 95 who defended Mariupol’s steelworkers, Ukraine’s military intelligence agency said.
The majority of the Ukrainians were badly wounded, suffering from gunshot and shrapnel wounds, blast traumas, burns, fractured bones, and amputated limbs, the agency known by the acronym GUR said in a statement on Telegram.
Going forward, interesting think-piece from 'Foreign Affairs'
What If Ukraine Wins?
THE WAR AFTER THE WARThe combination of military setbacks and punishing sanctions might eventually induce Moscow to moderate its goals, and a meaningful cease-fire might become achievable.
But a more far-reaching negotiated settlement is probably out of the question for Putin.
Russia is already treating the locations it has occupied not as bargaining chips for an eventual settlement but as Russian territory. And according to the Russian intelligence experts Andrei Soldatov and Irina Borogan, Kremlin hardliners want more war—not less.
Ukraine and the West should thus assume that Russia will not accept any defeat.
A small Ukrainian victory in, say, the fall of this year might well be followed by another Russian invasion in 2023. Russia would need to regroup its forces, which would be challenging under sanctions.
Even more important for Putin than imperial conquest, however, is the preservation of his own power, since autocrats who lose wars often end up in dire straits. Putin might have to temporarily accept being pushed back to his pre-invasion starting point, but he could not countenance the permanent loss of Ukraine.
He might continue small-scale fighting, missile strikes, and aerial bombardment until reinforcements—gathered through partial or full mobilization—arrived. Alternatively, Putin could cynically use a cease-fire to buy time for bad-faith negotiations, much as he did before the February invasion.
Meanwhile, to deter future Russian attacks, Ukraine would likely have to ask for more weaponry than ever. Assenting to this would be difficult for Western powers, as Russia would be seeking relief from sanctions and taking its usual divide-and-conquer approach to Washington and its allies.
For the Western powers, a theoretical solution would be to offer Ukraine security guarantees in exchange for Ukrainian neutrality. But Russia could put those promises to the test in a renewed attack—and sanctions relief, if it ever came to pass, would have to be slow.
With Putin’s Russia, the approach must be “distrust and verify.”