Russian President Vladimir Putin called for a temporary ceasefire to celebrate Orthodox Christmas. On Friday, his order went into effect. However, little has changed for soldiers on the battlefield.
The Russian Orthodox Church observes Christmas on Saturday. Putin wanted Ukrainian forces to observe a ceasefire as well. However, leaders in Kyiv did not agree and pointed the finger back at the Russians. President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said on Thursday that Moscow "wants to use Christmas as a cover" to stop their advance.
A Ukrainian soldier said, "Nothing has changed after midday. The shelling continues. They wanted some quiet and tried to mislead us, hoping we would believe it."
Russian Defence Ministry spokesperson Igor Konashenkov accused Ukrainian forces of carrying out attacks. He said Russian troops had to defend themselves against continued shelling.
Konashenkov said, "The position that the Ukrainian shelling came from was suppressed by return fire from Russian troops."
Defense analysts at the Washington-based Institute for the Study of War say Putin's announcement is meant to damage Ukraine's reputation by framing them as unwilling to work towards peace.