No Christmas ceasefire in Ukraine: Russia

KYIV: Moscow on Wednesday said there was no “Christmas truce” on the cards after nearly 10 months of brutal war in Syria. Ukraineeven if the release of dozens more prisoners, including an American, shows that some communication between the two sides still exists.
Russia and Ukraine are not currently engaged in negotiations to end the fighting that is raging in the east and south and has spread to Kyiv again on Wednesday. Tens of thousands of people have been killed, millions displaced and cities in ruins since Russia invaded the neighboring country on February 24.
“There is no calm on the front lines,” President of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelenskyy said in a routine video speech in the evening, describing Russia’s destruction of towns in the east with artillery: “So only ruins and craters remain.”
Zelenskyy said this week Russia should start withdrawing its troops before Christmas as a step toward ending Europe’s biggest conflict since World War Two. Moscow rejects the proposal outright, saying Ukraine must accept the loss of its territory to Russia before any progress can be made.
Despite the lack of peace talks, hundreds of detainees have been released in recent weeks. The announcement – along with progress in negotiating the resumption of exports of an ingredient in Russian fertilizers and the extension of the grain deal – suggests that the two sides maintain communication at least limited on some levels.
Kiev and Washington said the latest exchange of dozens of detainees included a US citizen.
The head of Ukraine’s presidential administration, Andriy Yermak, identified the American as Suedi Murekezi, who he said “helped our people” before being detained by Russia. The Washington Post reports that Murekezi is a former US Air Force veteran born in Uganda.
White House national security spokesman John Kirby did not name the freed Americans, citing privacy concerns.
“We certainly welcome that news,” Kirby told reporters.
Kirby said the scale of the ongoing violence has softened hopes of an impending cessation of hostilities.
“Given what we’re seeing in the air and on the ground in Ukraine, it’s hard to say that this war will be over by the end of the year,” Kirby said in response to a question about peace talks. with the President of Russia. Putin.
“So there’s active fighting right now. We think that will continue for some time to come.”
The head of the International Committee of the Red Cross on Wednesday said a prisoner of war exchange deal was an option in the Ukraine-Russia conflict. The ICRC stressed that reaching an agreement on this matter is up to the two countries.
ICRC President Mirjana Spoljaric said a major swap could build trust and that such exchanges in the past constituted “the first step towards a broader agreement”.
Neither the Red Cross nor either side has made public the exact numbers of each country’s war detainees, but it is believed that there are thousands of such prisoners.
Ukraine has pushed for the return of more detainees as part of talks with Russian representatives to find a way to reopen the ammonia gas pipeline through Ukraine, Reuters reported. The pipeline is considered by many to be important in lowering world prices for gas-based fertilizers.
Drones attack Kiev
Violence returned to Kyiv, with the first major drone strike on the Ukrainian capital in weeks. Two administrative buildings were attacked, but the air defenses largely repelled the attack. Zelenskyy said 13 drones were shot down.
In a district of Kyiv, where the ground is covered with snow, residents said they heard the loud screeching engine of an Iranian Shahed drone, followed by a massive explosion at a nearby building. their houses.
“I want all of this to end… Because (Russian President Vladimir) Putin, that bastard, must die,” Yana, 39, said as she prepared to go to work.
One attack appears to have ripped off part of the roof of a nearby walled brick building. It is unclear what the building was used for.
Shocked residents, wrapped in the cold, said no one seemed to be injured.
The white tail of a drone can be seen in the wreckage. It had the M529 Geran-2 written on it and a handwritten message “For Ryazan!!!”, apparently referring to what Moscow said was a Ukrainian attack on an airstrip deep in its territory. Russia this month.
Geran-2 is the Russian name given to the Shahed aircraft.
patriotic air defense force
Russia, which calls the war a “special military operation,” has fired a series of missiles at energy infrastructure since October. Ukraine’s grid operator said the energy facilities were not affected. damage in Wednesday’s attack.
Ukraine wants to strengthen its air defenses against attacks. US officials told Reuters this week that an announcement on a decision to supply the Patriot missile defense system to Ukraine could be made as soon as Thursday.
Zelenskyy said Ukraine is doing everything possible to get more modern and powerful anti-drone and air defense systems, and has made important progress on this this week.
In the past 24 hours, the Ukrainian military said, in the Kharkiv, Donetsk and Zaporizhia “The enemy conducted 1 air strike and 11 missile attacks, 3 of which targeted civilian infrastructure… (and) carried out more than 60 attacks from multiple rocket launchers. fire”.
And Russian shells hit the regional administration building on the central square of the newly liberated southern city of Kherson, Ukraine’s deputy chief of staff said.
After a series of blitzkrieg by Ukraine, Kiev regained control of about half of the territory Moscow captured in the first weeks of the war, with neither side gaining significant territory over the past month.


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