© Reuters. In the Donetsk region of Ukraine, Ukraine, December 30, 2022, Ukrainian soldiers ride an Armoured Personnel Carrier (“APC”) as Russia continues to attack Ukraine. REUTERS/Yevhen Titov
(Reuters) – Russian President Vladimir Putin demanded a 36-hour ceasefire for Ukraine in celebration of Orthodox Christmas. This was rejected by Kyiv, which stated that there would be no truce until Russia withdraws troops from occupied territory.
* The Kremlin said Putin had ordered Russian troops to cease firing from midday on Friday along the entire front, in response to a call for a Christmas truce from Patriarch Kirill of Moscow, the head of the Russian Orthodox Church, a close Putin ally.
* Ukrainian presidential adviser Mikhailo Podolyak tweeted back that Russia “must leave the occupied territories – only then will it have a ‘temporary truce’. You can keep your hypocrisy private.”* The United States greeted Putin’s order with scepticism, calling it “cynical” and raising concern Russia would use the temporary pause to regroup.
* A new U.S. weapons package for Ukraine will be worth roughly $2.8 billion, U.S. officials told Reuters.* The leaders of the United States and Germany on Thursday announced they were sending armoured fighting vehicles to Ukraine after a similar move by France earlier this week.
* The Kremlin said Putin told Turkey’s President Tayyip Erdogan that Moscow was ready for peace talks – but only under the condition that Ukraine “take into account the new territorial realities”, a reference to Kyiv acknowledging Moscow’s annexation of Ukrainian territory.
* Ukraine’s Podolyak called that demand “fully unacceptable”.
* Ukrainian and Russian troops battled in eastern regions as Kyiv tried to push back occupying forces, while President Volodymyr Zelenskiy urged the West to provide his army with heavy tanks.
* The Ukrainian military said the Russians were focused on an offensive in the Bakhmut sector of the Donetsk region.
* Reuters could not immediately verify the battlefield reports.
* Ukraine’s gross domestic product fell by 30.4% in 2022 – the largest annual fall in more than 30 years – because of the war with Russia, Economy Minister Yulia Svyrydenko said.
* The Secretary of Ukraine’s Security and Defence Council, Oleksiy Danylov, tweeted: “A ceasefire? Lying and hypocrisy. In the Ukrainian night’s singing silence, we will bite you.”