Monday, March 4, 2024

Russia says no Christmas ceasefire in Ukraine

Russia says no Christmas ceasefire in Ukraine
December 15, 2022 Reuters

KYIV (Reuters) - Moscow said no "Christmas ceasefire" was on the cards after nearly 10 months of war in Ukraine, rejecting a call by Kyiv to start withdrawing troops by Christmas as a step to end Europe's biggest conflict since World War Two.

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 Ukraine's capital in weeks. Two administrative buildings were hit, but air defences largely repelled the attack. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy said 13 drones had been shot down.

In one Kyiv district, where snow lay on the ground, residents said they heard the loud whirring engine of an Iranian Shahed drone followed by a powerful explosion at a building next to their homes.

"I want this all to be over ... For (Russian President Vladimir) Putin, that bastard, to die," said Yana, 39, who had been 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 neighbour on Feb. 24, saying it needed to protect Russian speakers from Ukrainian far-right nationlists. Kyiv and its allies call it an unprovoked war of choice.

"There is no calm on the front line," Zelenskiy said in a regular evening video address, describing Russia's destruction of towns in the east with artillery: "So that only bare ruins and craters" remain.

Zelenskiy said this week that Russia should start withdrawing by Christmas as a step to end the conflict, but Moscow rejected the proposal, saying Ukraine must accept the loss of territory to Russia before any progress can be made.

"Just given what we're seeing in the air and on the ground in Ukraine, it's difficult to conclude that this war will be over by year's end," White House national security spokesperson John Kirby said in response to a question about the prosects for a negotiated peace.

Russia, which calls the war a "special military operation", has fired barrages of missiles on energy infrastructure since October, distrupting power supplies and leaving Ukrainians without heating in freezing winter conditions.

In Paris, about 70 countries and institutions this week pledged just over 1 billion euros ($1.1 billion) to help maintain Ukraine's water, food, energy, health and transportation in face of Russia's attacks.