War in Ukraine: the Russian truce is over, the hostilities have not stopped
Sylvie Claire / January 8, 2023
Ukrainians celebrated Orthodox Christmas on Saturday in the middle of the war, sometimes even in underground shelters, and the 36-hour truce announced unconvincingly by Vladimir Putin ended without the hostilities really having ceased.
The world has seen once again today how untrue are all the words spoken up to the highest level in Moscow," Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said in a video message published in the evening. "They talked about a so-called ceasefire ... but the reality is that Russian shells continued to hit Bakhmut (east, ed.) and other Ukrainian positions," he added, hammering that the only solution was "the expulsion of Russian occupiers from Ukrainian lands. »
The ceasefire, decreed by Moscow from Friday midday, ended at midnight Saturday, Ukraine accusing the Russian army of not having respected it, and Russia accusing in return the Ukrainians of having prevented its application by forcing it to retaliate. Kiev had rejected the Kremlin's announcement from the outset, still described as "fake" on Saturday by the Ukrainian presidential adviser Mykhaïlo Podoliak, claiming that it was a ruse to gain time. Washington, Paris, London, Berlin and the EU have also denounced Moscow's "hypocrisy ».
Journalists in Chassiv Iar, in eastern Ukraine, have in fact seen sustained shelling throughout the morning. In Bakhmut, the epicenter of the fighting located further north, AFP had already heard Friday artillery fire from both sides of the front, in the hours following the establishment of the unilateral ceasefire by Russia.
The shooting was at most of lower intensity than in previous days. According to the Ukrainian Prosecutor's Office, two people were killed and 13 wounded in Bakhmut during the course of Friday, in a town largely destroyed by fighting and where both sides are facing heavy losses. According to Ukrainian authorities, Russian troops also shelled the southern region of Kherson on Friday, killing one rescue worker and wounding seven others.
In the region of Zaporijjia (south-east), according to the local administration, a UN mission distributing humanitarian aid in Orikhiv was "caught under fire" by the enemy. The two countries, at war since February 2022, were celebrating on Saturday the Orthodox Christmas, the majority religion in Russia as in Ukraine.
The 7th of January of the civil calendar (Gregorian) corresponds to the 25th of December of the old Julian calendar that the Orthodox Church continues to follow, out of step with the Catholics since the 16th century. On the Russian side, Vladimir Putin attended alone a religious service in a church in the Kremlin on Friday at midnight, deviating from his habit of attending the liturgy in public, in the provinces or on the outskirts of Moscow. In a message broadcast on Saturday by the Kremlin, he addressed his congratulations to Orthodox Christians.
Church organizations "support our soldiers" fighting in Ukraine, the Russian president said. On the Ukrainian side, hundreds of faithful attended a historic liturgy on Saturday in the famous monastery of the Caves of Kiev, formerly under the jurisdiction of the Moscow Patriarchate but passed in December into the fold of the independent Ukrainian Church.