Ukraine accused of shelling Donetsk as Moscow rules out a ‘Christmas ceasefire’
Russia has ruled out a "Christmas ceasefire" in the ongoing war in Ukraine even as it has entered the 10th month. It also rejected Kyiv's call to start withdrawing troops by Christmas as a step to end the conflict.
Russian-installed officials in the annexed areas of Donetsk claimed that Ukraine shelled the city overnight in one of the biggest attacks in years. "At exactly 7.00 o'clock this morning they subjected the centre of Donetsk to the most massive attack since 2014," Alexei Kulemzin, the Russian-backed mayor of the city, said on Telegram. "Forty rockets from BM-21 Grad multiple rocket launchers were fired at civilians in our city," Kulemzin said. He termed the attack a war crime.
Meanwhile, Russia has ruled out a "Christmas ceasefire" in the 10-month war in Ukraine. It also rejected Kyiv's call to start withdrawing troops by Christmas as a step to end the conflict.
Responding to queries regarding whether there was a proposal for a "Christmas ceasefire," Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters on Wednesday, "No, no such offers have been received from anybody. This topic is not on the agenda."
While Zelensky wants Russia to start pulling back by Christmas, Moscow wants Ukraine to accept the loss of territory to Russia before any progress can be made.
The war has been raging in the east and south with little movement on either side. The two sides are not engaged in any kind of talks either to end the war.
On Wednesday, Kyiv bore the brunt of a major drone attack which destroyed two administrative buildings. However, it claimed that its air defences largely repelled the attack. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said that 13 "Shahed" Iranian drones had been shot down.
Residents in one of the areas reported hearing the loud whirring engine of the drone followed by a powerful explosion.
Moscow has been targeting thermal power plants in the country, leaving several people in the country without power in the freezing winter conditions.
The US also doesn't see the aggression ending by the year-end. "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 when asked about the possibility of negotiated peace.
The US is also preparing to send Patriot missile system to the Ukrainian military and the announcement can come on Thursday. Washington is also expected to send equipment that converts unguided aerial munitions into smart bombs, allowing a high degree of accurate targeting.
Moscow is unhappy with the move and has warned that Patriot systems on Ukraine territory would be legitimate targets.
(With inputs from agencies)
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