Russia accuses Ukraine of “continuous shelling” amid skepticism about Putin’s ceasefire order

The impact of Russian President Vladimir Putin, who ordered his forces in Ukraine to honor a unilateral 36-hour ceasefire, was in doubt Friday after Officials in Kyiv rejected the move called “trickery” and “hypocrisy,” but it’s not clear if Ukrainian troops would follow suit. Journalists from the French news agency AFP im Frontline town of Bakhmut said they heard both outgoing and incoming fire after the ceasefire was supposed to begin.

Moscow had not made it clear whether it would retaliate if Ukraine continued fighting, something the Russian military blamed on Ukrainian forces. Ukrainian troops “continued to shell Russian troop settlements and positions, despite the ceasefire announced by the Russian Federation,” a Defense Ministry official said Friday during a daily briefing.

Russia’s declared unilateral ceasefire in the nearly 11-month war would have started at 12 noon local time on Friday and the Kremlin said it would last until midnight on Saturday.

About 40 minutes after the Russian ceasefire came into effect, air raid sirens sounded in Kyiv, but no explosions were heard. A widely used Alerts in Ukraine app, which contains information from emergency services, showed sirens wailing across the country.

Putin’s announcement Thursday that Kremlin troops would cease fighting along the 684-mile front line and elsewhere was unexpected. It came after the head of the Russian Orthodox Church, Patriarch Kirill, proposed a truce for this weekend’s Orthodox Christmas holiday. The Orthodox Church, which uses the Julian calendar, celebrates Christmas on January 7th.

But Ukrainian and Western officials suspected an ulterior motive in Putin’s apparent goodwill gesture. They portrayed the announcement as an attempt by Putin to seize moral superiority while possibly seeking to seize the initiative on the battlefield and sap the momentum of the Ukrainians’ counteroffensive of recent months.

Russia bombs Ukraine with drones piloted by European and American technology


Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy questioned the Kremlin’s intentions and accused the Kremlin of planning the lull “in order to continue the war with renewed vigour”.

“Now they want to use Christmas as a cover to stop the advance of our guys in the (eastern) Donbass (region) for a while and bring equipment, ammunition and mobilized people closer to our positions,” Zelenskyy said late Thursday.

However, he did not directly say that Kyiv would ignore Putin’s request.

US President Joe Biden echoed Zelenskyy’s caution, saying it was “interesting” that Putin was ready to bomb hospitals, kindergartens and churches this Christmas and New Year.

“I think (Putin) is trying to find some oxygen,” Mr. Biden said without elaborating.

Rare view from the front of the war in Ukraine


US State Department spokesman Ned Price said Washington had “little confidence in the intentions behind this announcement,” adding that Kremlin officials “have given us no reason to take anything they are offering at face value.” to take”.

The truce order appears to be a ruse “to rest, re-equip, regroup, and eventually attack again,” he said.

The Institute for the Study of War agreed that the truce could be a ploy to allow Russia to regroup.

“Such a pause would disproportionately benefit Russian troops and gradually deprive Ukraine of the initiative,” the think tank said late Thursday. “Putin cannot reasonably expect Ukraine to comply with the terms of this suddenly declared ceasefire and may have called for the ceasefire to portray Ukraine as inaccessible and unwilling to take the necessary steps towards negotiations.”

Washington says it stands ready to continue supporting Ukraine’s war effort. On Friday, the US was expected to announce nearly $3 billion in military aid to Ukraine — a major new package that was set to include several dozen Bradley combat vehicles for the first time.

Germany also plans to send armored personnel carriers by the end of March.

The distrust between the warring parties did not diminish despite the Christmas backdrop.

Former Russian President Dmitry Medvedev, deputy chairman of the Russian Security Council, said those who rejected Putin’s proposal for a Christmas truce were “clowns” and “pigs”.

“The hand of Christian mercy has been extended to Ukrainians,” he said in a Telegram post. “But pigs have no faith and no innate sense of gratitude.”

Some civilians on the streets of Kyiv said they were speaking from bitter experience when they doubted Russia’s motives.

“Everyone is preparing (for an attack) because everyone remembers what happened on New Year’s Day when there were around 40 shahed (Iranian drones),” said local resident Vasyl Kuzmenko. “But anything is possible.”

In the Vatican, Pope Francis said he sends heartfelt wishes “to the Eastern Churches, both Catholic and Orthodox, that tomorrow the Nativity of the Lord will be celebrated.”

On Friday, Pope Francis addressed thousands of the faithful gathered in St. Peter’s Square for Epiphany, saying: “In a special way I would like to express my desire to reach out to the brothers and sisters of martyred Ukraine. May the birth of the Redeemer bring comfort, inspire hope, and inspire concrete steps that can finally end the fighting and bring about peace.”

Deputy head of Ukraine’s presidential office, Kyrylo Tymoshenko, reported on Friday that Russian attacks on Thursday killed nine civilians and wounded 11 others.

Citing data from regional officials, Tymoshenko said one civilian died and three were wounded in the country’s eastern province of Donetsk, where Russia has launched a attrition offensive, while one was wounded in the neighboring northeastern province of Kharkiv.

Six dead and four wounded were reported after attacks in the southern province of Kherson, and two dead and three wounded in the southeastern province of Zaporizhia. Russia accuses Ukraine of “continuous shelling” amid skepticism about Putin’s ceasefire order

Rick Schindler

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