Russian missiles destroy vital Ukrainian infrastructure
By Stefan J. Bos
Shocked residents watched as a Russian SU-34 aircraft crashed into a nine-story residential building in this town on the coast of the Sea of Azov, near Ukraine.
While the two crew members were reportedly ejected to safety, a fireball engulfed a building in Yeysk, in the Krasnodar Krai area.
Russian officials say more than a dozen people, including children, died, and nearly two dozen were injured in the blaze despite hundreds of people being involved in rescue operations.
Shortly after Monday's crash, there was also more suffering at the border in Ukraine, with Russian forces carrying out new airstrikes on Ukrainian energy facilities.
Several explosions were heard in northern Kyiv, where there is a thermal power station.
The cities of Dnipro, Mykolaiv, and Zhytomyr were also targeted, adding to concerns the death toll will further rise following other deadly drone and missile strikes that have killed many people since Monday.
Kyiv says that in recent days some 30 percent of Ukraine's power stations have been destroyed by Russia, causing massive blackouts across the country. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky described them as "Russian terrorist attacks" and warned there was "no space left for negotiations" with what he called Russian President Vladimir Putin's "regime."
Yet between the death and destruction, guns were briefly silenced in Ukraine's Zaporizhzhia area for a tearful reunion. Some 108 Ukrainian women, including service personnel, were exchanged for 110 Russian women in the first all-female and largest prisoners-of-war swap in this armed conflict so far.
Many Ukrainian women appeared emotional as they met fellow soldiers and loved ones. Viktoria Obidina, a Ukrainian Azov battalion medic, said: "I will go to see my daughter. I want to see her so badly."
The Moscow-appointed head of one of the Russian-occupied Ukrainian regions said earlier that Kyiv had freed 80 civilians and 30 military personnel.
These were brief moments of joy for some families in this otherwise devastating war on both sides.
Russia has named General Sergei Suvorikin the overall commander of what Moscow calls its "special operation" in Ukraine. Suvorikin served in Syria and Chechnya, where Russian forces pounded cities with a harsh policy against its foes.
Nicknamed "General Armageddon" by the Russian media because of his alleged toughness, his appointment was followed by the biggest wave of missile and drone strikes against Ukraine since Moscow invaded on February 24.