In exchange for the release of two imprisoned US citizens, Russia has apparently demanded the release of the Russian Vadim K., who was sentenced to life imprisonment in Germany for the Tiergarten murder. The spokesman for the US National Security Council, John Kirby, confirmed on Friday the US news channel CNN that Russian officials had made such a move. However, he firmly rejected the request.

“Holding two US citizens hostage in exchange for a killer in a third country is not a serious counteroffer,” Kirby said. “It is a malicious attempt to evade a very serious offer and proposal from the United States.” However, US representatives had contacted Germany to find out in principle whether K. could become part of the swap deal, the news channel reported at Appeal to a German government representative. But that was never seriously considered. Russia must take the US offer seriously.

The US is currently trying to free basketball player Brittney Griner and former US soldier Paul Whelan who are also being held in Russia. According to media reports, the US plan communicated weeks ago includes an exchange of the two US citizens with the Russian arms smuggler Viktor Bout, who is in prison in the US. CNN then reported on Friday, citing informed circles, that Russian representatives had requested through informal channels that the United States release Vadim K. as part of a prisoner exchange.

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken has spoken to his Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov for the first time since the start of the war in Ukraine. On Friday morning (local time) there was an “open and direct discussion” about an offer to release US basketball player Brittney Griner, who was imprisoned in Russia, and American citizen Paul Whelan, Blinken said in Washington. “I urged the Kremlin to accept the substantive proposal that we (…) made.” The Russian Foreign Ministry confirmed the phone call between the two chief diplomats.

After the momentous attack on a prison in eastern Ukraine, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyj accused Russia of having committed a war crime with it. “Today I received information about the occupiers’ attack on Olenivka in the Donetsk region,” Zelenskyy said in his daily speech on Friday. “This is a premeditated Russian war crime, a premeditated mass murder of Ukrainian prisoners of war.” The Ukrainian president called the number “more than 50 dead”.

The detention center in Olenivka, where Ukrainian prisoners of war were held, was bombed on Friday. After that, Russia and Ukraine accused each other of being responsible for the attack. The Russian Defense Ministry said a US-supplied Himars missile launcher was used. Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba, on the other hand, said the Russian army had bombed the detention center. According to Russian sources, Ukrainian prisoners of war, including members of the Azov regiment, were being held in Olenivka in the region controlled by pro-Russian separatists. There were different reports about the number of victims. The leader of the pro-Russian separatists in Donetsk, Denis Puschilin, spoke of 47 dead.

Former US General David Petraeus thinks it’s possible that Ukraine can regain territory occupied by Russia in the war of aggression. “Indeed, it seems increasingly likely that Ukrainian forces could recapture much, if not all, of the areas occupied by Russian forces in recent months,” he told Bild (Saturday). “If NATO and other western states continue to allocate resources at the current pace, … I believe the Ukrainian forces will be able to stop further Russian advances and begin to retake the territories captured by the Russians since February 24 ‘ said Petraeus. Russia launched its war of aggression against the neighboring country at the end of February.

What will be important on Saturday:

After Zelenskyj’s visit to the port city of Odessa, it is expected that the export of millions of tons of grain by ship across the Black Sea, which has been impeded for a long time, will begin. The head of state had announced that the first ship should start soon.

After a long wait, the first Gepard anti-aircraft tanks have arrived from Germany. The Ukrainian military says it bombed a Russian-held bridge in Kherson. All news about the war in Ukraine can be found here in the ticker.

Ukraine’s three ports intended for the export of grain resumed work on Wednesday, according to the Navy. The federal government approves the sale of 100 modern self-propelled howitzers to Kyiv. All voices and developments on the Ukraine war in the ticker.