The Russian ceasefire ended, the fighting did not stop

Posted on Saturday, January 07, 2023 at 10:00 PM

Ukrainians celebrated Orthodox Christmas on Saturday in the middle of the war, sometimes even in underground shelters, and a 36-hour ceasefire announced by Vladimir Putin unconvincingly ended without actually stopping hostilities.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy said in a video address that he released in the evening: “Today, the world could once again see how untrue all the words spoken at the highest level in Moscow are.”

“They were supposedly talking about a ceasefire… but the reality is that Russian shells continued to hit Bakhmut (east, editor’s note) and other Ukrainian positions,” he said, stressing that the only solution was “Russia’s expulsion.” Invaders from Ukrainian lands”.

A ceasefire ordered by Moscow since Friday afternoon expired at midnight on Saturday (21:00 GMT), after Ukraine accused the Russian military of not respecting it, and in return, Russia accused the Ukrainians of preventing it from being enforced by retaliating.

Kyiv immediately rejected the Kremlin’s announcement on Saturday, which was still described as “fake” by Ukrainian presidential adviser Mykhailo Podoliak, saying it was a ploy to buy time. Washington, Paris, London, Berlin and the EU also condemned the “hypocrisy” of Moscow.

Journalists in Chassiv Yar, eastern Ukraine, actually observed continuous shelling throughout the morning.

In Bachmut, the epicenter of the fighting further north, the AFP had already heard artillery fire on both sides of the front on Friday, hours after a unilateral ceasefire was reached by Russia.

These shootings were less intense than the previous days.

According to the Ukrainian Prosecutor’s Office, two people died and 13 were injured in Bakhmut, which was largely destroyed as a result of the fighting on Friday, and where both sides suffered heavy losses.

According to the Ukrainian authorities, Russian troops also shelled Kherson region (south) on Friday, killing one rescuer and injuring 7 others.

In the Zaporizhzhya region (south-east), according to the local administration, the UN humanitarian aid distribution mission in Orikhiv “came under enemy fire”.

– Putin is alone in the Kremlin

On the Russian side, Vladimir Putin attended a midnight mass at the Kremlin church alone on Friday, breaking his habit of attending liturgies in public places, in the provinces or on the outskirts of Moscow.

In a message released by the Kremlin on Saturday, he congratulated the Orthodox Christians.

Church organizations “support our soldiers” fighting in Ukraine, the Russian president said.

On the Ukrainian side, hundreds of believers attended a historic liturgy on Saturday at the famous monastery of the Kyiv Caves Lavra, which was previously under the jurisdiction of the Moscow Patriarchate but became part of the Independent Ukrainian Church in December.

“We have waited a long time for this sanctuary to be handed over to us. This is a truly historic event that all Ukrainians have been waiting for,” 19-year-old Veronika Martynyuk, who leads the choir, told AFP.

“Every country has its own church. And we have our own church – it’s very good, it’s the Ukrainian church, it should be like that,” said 47-year-old religious Oksana Sobko.

– New military aid –

In Chassiv Iard, near the front, mass was held in the basement, not in the church, for fear of bombing. Only nine of the church remained faithful, the rest left the city.

“Thank God we got together, it’s over,” said 62-year-old Zinaida Artiouxina, the only member of the church choir.

Even if it were respected, the cease-fire ordered by Vladimir Putin would only provide a 36-hour reprieve in the nearly 11-month high-intensity conflict.

The United States, Kiev’s main patron, pledged $3 billion in new military aid to Ukraine on Friday, including the supply of Bradley armored personnel carriers, personnel carriers and howitzers.

The announcement follows Germany, which said it would send 40 Marder armored vehicles in the first quarter, following in the footsteps of France, which announced on Wednesday the delivery of AMX-10 RC light battle tanks.

Western arms supplies are crucial to Kyiv, and in particular have enabled it to mount an effective counteroffensive that drove Russian forces out of Kharkiv Oblast in the northeast and Kherson in the south.

With winter, the front is mostly frozen. Ukraine, which promised to take back all its territories from Russia, however, expressed its fear of a new attack by Russia in the near future.

Finally, in London, the British government announced a meeting of Justice Ministers in March to support the International Criminal Court (ICC) case for war crimes and crimes against humanity, in which the forces are mainly accused. Ukraine.

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