Ukraine dismissed as a trick a unilateral order by Russia for a 36-hour ceasefire starting on Friday and the leaders of the United States and Germany said they were sending armoured fighting vehicles in a boost for the Kyiv government. read more
* President Vladimir Putin ordered Russian troops to cease firing from midday on Friday along the entire front, in response to a call for a Christmas truce from the head of the Russian Orthodox Church, a close Putin ally.
* Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskiy rejected the ceasefire and called it a trick. His adviser, Mikhailo Podolyak, said Russia “must leave the occupied territories – only then will it have a ‘temporary truce’.”
* U.S. President Joe Biden suggested the ceasefire offer was a sign of desperation. “I think he’s trying to find some oxygen,” he told reporters at the White House.
* Russia’s ambassador to the United States, Anatoly Antonov, responded on Facebook saying: “Washington is set on fighting with us ‘to the last Ukrainian'”.
* A new U.S. weapons package for Ukraine will be worth about $2.8 billion, U.S. officials told Reuters.
* The leaders of the United States and Germany announced they were sending armoured fighting vehicles to Ukraine after a similar move by France this week.
* The Kremlin said Putin told Turkey’s President Tayyip Erdogan that Russia was ready for peace talks – but only under the condition that Ukraine acknowledge Russia’s annexation of Ukrainian territory.
* Ukraine’s Podolyak called that demand “fully unacceptable”.
* Erdogan said his government was ready to take on mediation duties to secure a lasting peace. But U.N. chief Antonio Guterres said serious peace negotiations were still far away.
* Ukrainian and Russian troops battled in eastern regions as Kyiv tried to push back occupying forces, 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.
* The United States believes Yevgeny Prigozhin, owner of the Wagner mercentary group and Putin ally, wants control of salt and gypsum mines near Bakhmut, a White House official said.
* The Ukrainian prosecutor general’s office said at least 452 children have been killed and 877 injured in the war.
* Reuters could not immediately verify the battlefield reports.
* “Look, we had Catholic Christmas, the fighting continued. The fighting never stops, not on holidays, not on weekends. So to trust him? No,” Valerii, 30, said in Kramatorsk, referring to Putin and adding that his town had suffered three or four strikes on New Year’s Eve.
* “We were under such bombing for New Year’s Eve. I think it’s just hypocrisy on Putin’s part,” said Nataliia Shkolka, 52, in Kyiv.