Russia pummelled Ukraine’s energy infrastructure with a large-scale drone and missile attack Saturday, injuring at least 19 people, local officials said. The Ukrainian military reported that it had downed 35 out of the 53 missiles launched at targets across the country overnight on June 1, as well as 46 out of 47 attack drones.

Injuries were reported by officials across the country, including in Ukraine’s western Lviv region and the central Dnipropetrovsk region. Twelve people, including eight children, were hospitalised after a strike close to two houses where they were sheltering in the Kharkiv region, said Governor Oleh Syniehubov.

The strikes were part of a series of sustained attacks by Russia against Ukraine’s power grid, which has been ongoing since March. Damage to Ukraine’s energy infrastructure in recent weeks has forced leaders of the war-ravaged country to institute nationwide rolling blackouts. Without adequate air defenses to counter assaults and allow for repairs, the shortages could still worsen as need spikes in late summer and the bitter-cold winter.

Meanwhile, Ukraine and Russia also exchanged prisoners of war on Friday, each sending back 75 POWs in the first such swap in the past three months, officials said. A few hours earlier and at the same location, the two sides also handed over bodies of their fallen soldiers.

The Ukrainian POWs, including four civilians, were returned on several buses that drove into the northern Sumy region. As they disembarked, they shouted joyfully and called their families to tell them they were home. Some knelt and kissed the ground while many wrapped themselves in yellow-blue flags and hugged one another, breaking into tears. Simultaneously, NATO foreign ministers were meeting in the Czech capital on Friday to prepare for this summer’s leaders’ summit as the alliance boosts support for Ukraine and countries one-by-one remove restrictions on how Kyiv can use western-supplied weaponry to combat Russia’s invasion.

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