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Russia ends ceasefire, vows to press ahead after Ukraine rejected truce

Russia has resumed attacks in the eastern Ukrainian regions, ending a self-declared Christmas ceasefire along the frontline after Ukraine rejected the truce.

A 50-year-old man died in the northeastern region of Kharkiv as a result of Russia’s bombing, Oleh Sinehubov, governor of the region said on the Telegram messaging app on Sunday midnight.

Ukrainian officials reported blasts in regions that make up the broader Donbas region, the war’s frontline, and also in the city of Zaporizhzhia.

Pavlo Kyrylenko, governor of the Donetsk region in Ukraine, said that there were nine missile strikes on the region overnight, including seven on the battered city of Kramatorsk. According to preliminary information, there were no casualties.

Moscow said it would continue to move ahead with the “special military operation.” In addition, Sergei Kiriyenko, Putin’s first deputy chief of staff, said that “the tasks set by the president for the special military operation will still be fulfilled, and there definitely will be a victory.”

Russian President Vladimir Putin on Friday ordered a 36-hour ceasefire along the line of contact for observing Russia and Ukraine’s Orthodox Christmas on Saturday. The ceasefire ended at 11:00pm in Kiev (2100 GMT) on Saturday.

Russia’s Defence Ministry says its forces observed the ceasefire, while Ukraine rejected the truce offer. Some reports said both sides exchanged artillery fire in eastern Ukraine after Putin’s Friday deadline.

Russia’s Orthodox Church observes Christmas on January 7. Ukraine’s main Orthodox Church has been recognized as independent by the church hierarchy since 2019 and rejects any notion of allegiance to the Moscow patriarch. Many Ukrainian believers have shifted their calendar to celebrate Christmas on December 25 as in the West.

Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky said on Wednesday that Russia is planning a major new offensive and “Russia wants to use truce as cover to stop our advances in Donbas and bring in more equipment.”

The rejection of the Russian ceasefire by Kiev came as the leaders of the United States and Germany said they were sending more weapons, including armored fighting vehicles, in a boost for the Ukrainian government.

US President Joe Biden on Thursday claimed that Russia’s call for a temporary, Christmas cease-fire is an effort to “find some oxygen.” Also, the Pentagon on Friday said that Putin’s aim of seizing Ukrainian territory has not changed, even if his military continues to suffer blows.

Moscow has repeatedly said it is open to peace talks but sees no willingness to negotiate on the part of Kiev.

Russia started its “special military operation” in Ukraine with the declared aim of “de-Nazifying” the country on February 24, 2022.

Since the start of the war, the United States and Europe have imposed waves of economic sanctions on Moscow and have supplied large shipments of heavy weaponry to Kiev.

The Kremlin has warned the sanctions and the Western military assistance will only prolong the war, which is now in its eleventh month.

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