May 20, 2024

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Moscow ends its unilaterally declared cease-fire, and vows to move forward in Ukraine

Moscow ends its unilaterally declared cease-fire, and vows to move forward in Ukraine

(Reuters) – Russia’s bombing of eastern Ukraine killed at least two people overnight, local officials said on Sunday, after Moscow ended a self-declared Christmas truce and vowed to fight on until victory over its neighbour. .

President Vladimir Putin ordered a 36-hour ceasefire along the contact line from midday on Friday to celebrate Christmas in Russia and Orthodox Ukraine, which fell on Saturday.

Ukraine rejected the truce and the General Staff of the Armed Forces of Ukraine said that Russian forces bombed dozens of positions and settlements along the front line on Saturday.

A 50-year-old man died in the northeastern Kharkiv region as a result of overnight Russian shelling, said the district governor, Oleh Sinhopov, on the messaging app Telegram. The news came minutes after midnight in Moscow. Local officials said one person was killed in another attack overnight on Soledar in the eastern Donetsk region.

Reuters could not immediately verify this.

Most Ukrainian Orthodox Christians traditionally celebrate Christmas on January 7, as do Orthodox Christians in Russia. But this year the Orthodox Church in Ukraine, the country’s largest, also allowed a celebration on December 25th. Nevertheless, many celebrated the holiday on Saturday, flocking to churches and cathedrals.

The Kremlin has said Moscow will press ahead with what it calls a “special military operation” in Ukraine, the invasion it launched on Feb. 24, and that Kyiv and its Western allies call the aggression unprovoked a territorial grab.

“The tasks set by President (Putin) for the special military operation will continue to be implemented,” Russian news agency TASS quoted Putin’s first deputy chief of staff, Sergei Kiriyenko, as saying.

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“And there will definitely be a victory.”

The war claimed tens of thousands of lives and displaced millions of Ukrainians.

Ukrainian officials have reported explosions in areas that make up the wider Donbass region – the front line in the war where fighting has been going on for months.

Pavlo Kirilenko, the governor of Donetsk, said there were nine missile strikes in the area overnight, including seven on the devastated city of Kramatorsk.

A local official said that explosions were also heard in the city of Zaporizhia, the administrative center of Zaporizhia Oblast, without providing any immediate report of damage or injuries.

Shellfire on Saturday reverberated around the nearly deserted streets of Bakhmut, an eastern city currently undergoing some of the fiercest fighting.

Serhiy Hayday, the governor of Luhansk in eastern Ukraine, said on television that there was heavy fighting in the area and that Russian forces had deployed their most combat-ready units and heavy equipment in the city of Kremina they were occupying, which he said meant the Russians were. Slowly retreat into the area.

With nighttime temperatures dropping to minus 15-17 degrees Celsius (5 to 1 Fahrenheit), Hayday added, fighting activity will soon increase as the hard frost means it’s easier to move heavy equipment.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said on Wednesday that Russia is planning a new major offensive. The Pentagon said Friday that Putin’s goal of seizing Ukrainian territory has not changed, even if his military continues to face the blows.

There have been growing fears that Belarus – Moscow’s staunch backer – will be used as a springboard to attack Ukraine from the north after an increase in military activity in the country and a new relocation of Russian forces there.

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Unofficial Telegram channels that monitor military activity in Belarus reported late Saturday that some 1,400 to 1,600 Russian soldiers have arrived from Russia in the northeastern Belarusian city of Vitebsk over the past two days.

Reuters could not independently verify the information.

Reporting by Lydia Kelly, David Ljögren and Pavel Politiuk Writing by Lydia Kelly and Pavel Politiuk Editing by Simon Cameron-Moore and Frances Kerry

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