No Christmas ceasefire in Ukraine: Russia

KYIV: Moscow said on Wednesday that no ‘Christmas ceasefire’ was expected after nearly 10 months of devastating war in Ukraine, even as the release of dozens of other prisoners, including an American, was announced showed that some contacts between the two parties remained.
Russia and Ukraine are currently not engaged in talks to end the fighting, which is raging in the east and south and reached Kyiv again on Wednesday. Tens of thousands of people have been killed, millions more displaced and cities reduced to rubble since Russia invaded its neighbor on February 24.
‘There is no calm on the front line,’ Ukrainian president says Volodymyr Zelensky said in a regular evening video address, describing Russia’s destruction of Eastern cities with artillery: “So that only ruins and bare craters remain.”
Zelenskyy said this week that Russia should start pulling out by Christmas to end the conflict, Europe’s biggest since World War II. Moscow flatly rejected the proposal, saying Ukraine must accept the loss of territory to Russia before progress can be made.
Despite the absence of peace talks, hundreds of detainees have been released in exchanges in recent weeks. The statements – along with progress in talks to resume Russian exports of an ingredient in fertilizers and the extension of a grain deal – showed that the two sides maintain at least limited contact on several levels.
The latest swap of dozens of detainees included a US citizen, Kyiv and Washington said on Wednesday.
The head of Ukraine’s presidential administration, Andriy Yermak, identified the American as Suedi Murekezi, who he said had “helped our people” before ending up in Russian custody. The Washington Post said Murekezi was a Ugandan-born US Air Force veteran.
White House national security spokesman John Kirby did not name the released American, citing privacy concerns.
“We certainly welcome this news,” Kirby told reporters.
Kirby said the scale of the ongoing violence dampened hopes of an imminent end to hostilities.
“Given what we’re seeing in the air and on the ground in Ukraine, it’s hard to conclude that this war will be over by the end of the year,” Kirby said in response to a question about the outlook. a negotiated peace with the Russian President. Vladimir Poutine.
“So there is active fighting at the moment. We expect that to continue for some time.”
The head of the International Committee of the Red Cross said on Wednesday that an all-for-all prisoner-of-war swap deal was an option in the conflict between Ukraine and Russia. The ICRC stressed that it was up to the two countries to reach an agreement on the matter.
ICRC President Mirjana Spoljaric said a major exchange could build trust and that such exchanges had in the past been “the first step towards a broader agreement”.
Neither the Red Cross nor the two sides have made public the precise number of war detainees in each country, but there are believed to be thousands.
Ukraine has been pushing for more captives to be returned amid talks with Russian officials demanding the reopening of an ammonia pipeline through Ukraine, Reuters reported. The pipeline is widely seen as important in driving down global prices for fertilizers made with the gas.
Drones hit Kyiv
Violence has returned to Kyiv, with the first major drone attack on the Ukrainian capital in weeks. Two administrative buildings were hit, but the air defenses largely repelled the attack. Zelenskyy said 13 drones were shot down.
In a Kyiv neighborhood where snow lay on the ground, residents said they heard the loud roar of the engine of an Iranian Shahed drone followed by a powerful explosion in a building next to their home.
“I want this all over… So that (Russian President Vladimir) Putin, that bastard, dies,” said Yana, 39, who was preparing for work.
An attack appears to have torn off part of the roof of a nearby walled brick building. We did not know what the building was used for.
Shocked residents, bundled up in the cold, said no one appeared to have been injured.
A drone’s white tail was visible in the wreckage. It had M529 Geran-2 written on it and a handwritten message “For Ryazan!!!”, an apparent reference to what Moscow says was a Ukrainian attack on an airstrip deep inside Russia this month- this.
Geran-2 is the Russian name for the Shahed aircraft.
Patriot Air Defense
Russia, which calls the war a “special military operation”, has fired barrages of missiles at energy infrastructure since October. The Ukrainian grid operator said energy facilities suffered no damage in Wednesday’s attack.
Ukraine wants to strengthen its air defenses to repel more attacks. US officials told Reuters this week that an announcement on a decision to supply the Patriot missile defense system to Ukraine could come as early as Thursday.
Zelenskyy said Ukraine was doing everything possible to get more modern and powerful anti-aircraft and anti-drone systems and had made significant progress on the issue this week.
Over the past 24 hours, the Ukrainian army has declared, in the regions of Kharkiv, Donetsk and Zaporizhia “the enemy launched 1 air strike and 11 missile strikes, including 3 on civilian infrastructure… (and) launched more than 60 attacks from multiple rocket launchers”.
And Russian shells hit the regional administration building in the central square of the recently liberated southern city of Kherson, the deputy head of Ukraine’s presidential office said.
After a series of blitzkrieg Ukrainian counteroffensives that saw Kyiv regain control of around half of the territory captured by Moscow in the first weeks of the war, neither side made any significant territorial gains in the month. last.


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