Russia says there is no Christmas ceasefire in Ukraine

Kyiv: Russia ruled out a “Christmas ceasefireafter nearly 10 months of war in Ukraine and rejected a call from Kyiv to start withdrawing its troops by Christmas in order to end Europe’s biggest conflict since World War II.
Russia and Ukraine are not currently engaged in talks to end the fighting, which is raging in the east and south with little movement on either side.
Violence returned to Kyiv on Wednesday, 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. Ukrainian President Volodymyr 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 all of this to be over… For (Russian President vladimir) Putin, that bastard, to die for,” said Yana, 39, who was getting ready for work when the attack took place.
Tens of thousands of people have been killed, millions more displaced and cities reduced to rubble since Russia invaded its neighbor on February 24, saying it must protect Russian speakers from far-right Ukrainian nationalists. Kyiv and its allies call it an unprovoked war of choice.
“There is no calm on the front line,” Zelenskyy said in an evening video address, describing Russia’s destruction of towns in the east with artillery “so that there is no only ruins and bare craters”.
Asked on Wednesday whether Moscow had seen any “Christmas ceasefire” proposals, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters: “No, no such offer has been received from whoever it is. This subject is not on the agenda”.
Zelenskyy said this week that Russia should start pulling out by Christmas to end the conflict, but Moscow has rejected the proposal, saying Ukraine must accept the loss of territory to Russia before progress can be made. can be realized.
“Given what we see in the air and on the ground in Ukraine, it is difficult to conclude that this war will be over by the end of the year,” said the national security spokesman of the Ukraine. White House, John Kirby, in response to a question about the lawsuits for a negotiated peace.
Russia, which calls the war a “special military operation”, has fired barrages of missiles at energy infrastructure since October, disrupting power supplies and leaving Ukrainians without heat in freezing winter conditions.
In a move that would significantly bolster Ukraine’s air defense, US officials told Reuters this week that a decision on supplying the Patriot missile system to Ukraine’s military could be announced as early as Thursday.
The Washington Post reported Wednesday that the United States also plans to send equipment that converts unguided aerial munitions into smart bombs, allowing a high degree of precise targeting.
The Kremlin said US Patriot systems would be legitimate targets and warned that Washington was sinking “deeper and deeper into the conflict in the post-Soviet republic”.
Dmytro Lubinets, Ukrainian parliament’s human rights commissioner, said 12,000 Ukrainian children had been taken to Russia since the invasion began in February, including 8,600 forcibly taken.
He said Ukrainian investigators discovered a cell where Russian troops were detaining and abusing children in Kherson, a southern town abandoned by pro-Moscow forces last month.
Lubinets did not provide evidence for his claims and Reuters could not immediately confirm his account. Russia denies targeting civilians and denies war crimes allegations.
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 the Ukrainian presidential administration, Andriy Yermak, identified the American as Sweden 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.
“We certainly welcome this news,” Kirby told reporters, but did not name the released American, citing privacy concerns.
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.


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