Russia honors Christmas truce despite Ukrainian strikes – Moscow
Russian troops are observing a 36-hour Orthodox Christmas truce despite attacks by Ukrainian forces, the country’s Defense Ministry has confirmed. The statement came after Kiev rejected Moscow’s declaration of a unilateral ceasefire, due to expire at midnight on Saturday.
The ministry said during its daily press briefing on Saturday that its troops “have been observing the ceasefire across all of the combat contact line.”
“At the same time, the Kiev authorities have fired artillery at cities and the Russian positions,” the ministry said. It added that Ukrainian soldiers have shelled multiple areas in Donbass and Russia’s newly incorporated territories in the south, and that the Russian military opened fire in response to Ukrainian attacks on several occasions.
Ukrainian forces fired more than 60 large-caliber shells at Donetsk and hit the nearby city of Makeyevka with US-supplied HIMARS multiple rocket launchers, according to the Russian Defense Ministry.
Officials in the Donetsk People’s Republic said two people were wounded and several apartment blocks and private houses were damaged on Saturday. A Ukrainian drone was destroyed near the port of Sevastopol in Crimea, according to Governor Mikhail Razvozhayev. Sevastopol houses Russia’s Black Sea Fleet.
Russian President Vladimir Putin said on Thursday that the ceasefire would allow Orthodox Christians, who make up the majority in Russia and Ukraine, to go to church and celebrate Christmas safely. Ukrainian President Vladimir Zelensky, meanwhile, claimed that a truce proposal was a deceptive move by Russia to halt Ukrainian advances in Donbass and advance additional soldiers and equipment to the frontline.