The Russian army claims to be continuing its ceasefire “despite artillery fire” from Kyiv

The Russian armistice, decided by Vladimir Putin, will start Friday and continue this Saturday for Orthodox Christmas. However, shelling was recorded from both sides of the front, which the Russians denied.

The Russian army confirmed this Saturday, as the previous day, that it intends to continue to comply until the end of the day with the unilateral ceasefire concluded by Vladimir Putin on the occasion of Orthodox Christmas. , despite the Ukrainian artillery fire.

“Despite the artillery fire of the Ukrainian Armed Forces on populated areas and Russian positions, implementation of the declared ceasefire regime will be continued by Russian troops until midnight (according to Russian time, i.e. 10 p.m., French time, editor’s note),” the Russian Defense Ministry said. in his daily report.

Russia claims to have repulsed attacks or returned Ukrainian fire in several places on the front, inflicting casualties on its enemies.

Two died in Bakhmout, according to Ukrainian justice

Journalists present in Chassiv Iar, in eastern Ukraine, observed the continued bombardment throughout the morning.

In Bakhmout, the epicenter of the fighting further north, AFP journalists had heard of artillery duels on both sides of the front line on Friday, hours after a unilateral ceasefire was set by Russia. However, these shots were of a lower intensity compared to the previous days.

According to the Prosecutor’s Office of Ukraine, two people were killed and 13 injured in Bakhmut on Friday, in a city largely destroyed by fighting and where both sides faced heavy losses.

According to Ukrainian authorities, Russian troops also shelled the Kherson (south) region on Friday, killing a rescue worker and wounding seven others.

Putin alone in the Kremlin

The two countries, which have been at war since February 2022, celebrate the Orthodox Christmas holiday on Saturday, the majority religious in Russia and Ukraine. January 7 of the civil (Gregorian) calendar corresponds to December 25 of the old Julian calendar which the Orthodox Church continues to follow.

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

In a message released Saturday by the Kremlin, he sent his congratulations to Orthodox Christians. Church organizations “support our soldiers” fighting in Ukraine, the Russian president said.

On the Ukrainian side, hundreds of parishioners attended a historic liturgy on Saturday at the famous Kyiv Cave Lavra monastery, which was previously under the jurisdiction of the Moscow Patriarchate but passed in December to the fold of the Ukrainian Independent Church. The office was presided over for the first time by Metropolitan Epiphany, head of the Church which broke with the Moscow Patriarchate.

A “propaganda act” for kyiv

However, the Russian president had broken off a 36-hour ceasefire on Thursday “along the lines of contact between the parties in Ukraine” with the Moscow army. The first since the start of the conflict last February.

The truce was supposed to officially allow Orthodox Ukrainians to go to church for Christmas, which is traditionally celebrated on January 7 in this faith.

Ukraine, however, has questioned the sincerity of the Russian initiative, seeing it as an “act of propaganda”. This was “an apology with the aim of at least stopping the advance of our troops in Donbass”, argued President Volodymyr Zelensky.

Ukraine’s presidential adviser, Mykhaïlo Podoliak, again rejected the Russian truce on Saturday, describing it as “fake”. “Russia invaded and killed Ukrainians for 11 months, angrily saying, ‘Why are you resisting?’ but kept complaining ‘Why doesn’t Ukraine support our fake proposal?'” he wrote in English on Twitter.

Paris, for its part, saw it as “a dirty attempt on the part of Russia to hide its responsibility, while it continues to multiply its atrocities and relentlessly bombard the whole of Ukraine”.

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