Russia y Ukraine attacked each other’s positions in eastern Ukraine on Friday without giving any sign that they would abide by the 36-hour ceasefire ordered unilaterally by the Russian president, Vladimir Putinat short notice to celebrate Orthodox Christmas in the region.
On Friday morning, Christmas Eve for Russians and many Ukrainians, Russian shells struck Kramatorsk, a near-frontline Ukrainian city in the Donetsk industrial region that Russia claims as its territory, the city’s mayor said.
“Kramatorsk is under fire. Stay in shelters,” Mayor Oleksandr Honcharenko posted on social media. He did not give details of the damage.
The Kremlin had ordered the truce to begin at 1200 hours, without specifying which time zone it was referring to. In Moscow, it would be 0900 GMT.
Russia invaded Ukraine on February 24, 2022, starting a war that has killed tens of thousands of people, displaced millions and reduced cities to rubble. Ukraine has driven Russia back from part of its territory, but battles are raging in cities to the east and south and Russia has unleashed barrages of airstrikes against civilian infrastructure.
In an unexpected last-minute announcement, Putin unilaterally ordered his troops on Thursday to abide by a ceasefire beginning Friday and through Russian Orthodox Christmas Eve and Christmas, a move rejected as a trick by Ukraine and its allies.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky strongly rejected the idea, stating that the aim was to stop the advance of Ukrainian forces in Donetsk and the eastern Donbass region and to attract more forces from Moscow.
“Now they want to use Christmas as a cover, even briefly, to stop the advances of our guys in the Donbass and bring equipment, ammunition and mobilized troops closer to our positions,” Zelensky said in his speech on idol on Thursday night.
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