The recent prisoner swap reminds us of Russian atrocities

On May 31, 2024, Ukraine exchanged prisoners with Russia. Then it was possible to return 71 military and four civilians from captivity.

Roman Gorilik, after two years of detention

One of the returned prisoners was Roman Gorilik. He's spent two years in Russian captivity. Roman was the senior controller of the checkpoint for the protection of the Chornobyl nuclear power plant. He and the other 168 National Guardsmen who guarded the Chornobyl nuclear power plant were taken hostage by the Russians and taken out of Ukraine through Belarus in March 2022.

The condition of Roman and other Ukrainian prisoners of war causes horror and associations with the darkest pages of human history - the Nazi concentration camps of death. It is hard to believe in such things after a quarter of the 21st century is already behind us.

According to General Prosecutor Andrew Kostin, 61 Ukrainian prisoners of war were executed by the Russians, and all Ukrainian soldiers were tortured in Russian captivity.

Ukraine evacuates children from Kharkiv Oblast's Zolochiv border area

Authorities are working to evacuate all children from the Zolochiv community in Kharkiv Oblast, which is located less than one kilometer from the Russia-Ukraine border, Zolochiv's military administration head Viktor Kovalenko stated in an interview with Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (RFE/RL) on June 5.

Following the launch of a new Russian offensive on May 10 in northern Kharkiv Oblast, Ukrainian forces halted the advance by late May and began counterattacks.

Kharkiv Oblast Governor Oleh Syniehubov announced on May 29 that preparations were underway for the evacuation from Zolochiv, a town approximately 15 kilometers (9 miles) south of the Russian border and 65 kilometers (40 miles) west of Vovchansk, which has seen significant conflict.

Local authorities have mandated evacuations for children in six villages within the Zolochiv community: Ivashky, Oleksandrivka, Perovske, Basovo, Tymofiivka, and Vidrodzhenivske, according to Kovalenko.

Families are being relocated either to live with relatives in safer areas or to dormitories designated by the authorities.

50% of Ukrainians think Zelensky failed to fulfill all or most pre-election promises - survey

Around 50% of Ukrainians believe President Volodymyr Zelensky has failed to fulfill most of his pre-election promises, according to a survey by the Kyiv International Institute of Sociology (KIIS) published on June 5. The survey, which included 1,002 respondents from all Ukrainian regions not under Russian occupation, assessed Zelensky's performance during his five-year tenure.

Only 18% of respondents felt Zelensky had fulfilled most or all of his promises, with a mere 5% saying he had fulfilled all of them. In contrast, 50% believed he had failed to meet most or all of his commitments, and 25% felt he had not fulfilled any promises at all.

Key reasons for this perceived failure included "dishonest and corrupt people in his team" (50%), a lack of competent team members (32%), the impact of Russia's full-scale invasion (31%), Zelensky's inexperience (27%), and the influence of oligarchs (26%). Some also cited the influence of other countries (10%) and Ukrainian political opposition (10%), while 14% blamed Zelensky’s own corruption, and 9% considered his promises too unrealistic.

Respondents specifically mentioned unmet promises such as ending the war in Donbas, fighting corruption, and improving public welfare. Anton Hrushetskyi, KIIS executive director, noted that repelling Russian aggression is seen as Zelensky's main success. However, criticisms focused largely on his personnel choices and the ongoing full-scale war.

This survey highlights the challenges Zelensky faces and the public's high expectations, painting a nuanced picture of his presidency amidst Ukraine's ongoing struggles.

Ukrainians may face power outages for most of the day during the winter season

Russia's relentless campaign against Ukraine's energy infrastructure has left the country facing a grim winter with potential daily blackouts, according to a report by the Financial Times (FT) on June 5. Ukrainian officials, speaking anonymously, warned that the damage to the energy system is so extensive that Ukrainians should brace for "life in the cold and the dark."

The assaults have been ongoing, with a noticeable intensification in the spring, coinciding with a period when Ukraine struggled to secure sufficient military aid from the West. This left some critical infrastructure unprotected by air defenses. On June 1, Russia targeted and severely damaged two hydroelectric power stations and two thermal power plants in a massive strike.

One Ukrainian official highlighted that these attacks not only crippled power generation facilities but also significantly damaged infrastructure crucial for transporting gas from western Ukraine's underground storage facilities. EU Ambassador to Ukraine, Katarina Mathernova, reported that Russia has obliterated 9.2 gigawatts (GW) of Ukraine's energy generation capacity.

Before the full-scale invasion, Ukraine had an electricity production capacity of around 55 GW, one of Europe's largest. However, ongoing bombardments and Russian occupation have reduced this to below 20 GW, according to Ukrainian officials. In mid-May, Ukraine began implementing national blackouts to manage the reduced power supply, a strategy it had avoided during the previous winter.

Energy Minister Herman Halushchenko warned on May 13 that Ukrainians should prepare for a challenging winter, noting that the country had already lost about 8 GW of capacity. He emphasized that such losses would have caused a total blackout in any other country.

Oleksandr Lytvynenko, secretary of Ukraine's national security and defense council, stated that Russia's objective is to make life "untenable" for Ukrainian civilians, underscoring the severity and intent behind the ongoing attacks on Ukraine's energy infrastructure.