March 25, 2023

Ukrainian forces staged their heaviest shelling attack in years in the country’s Russian-controlled east on Thursday, Moscow-installed officials said, as both sides ruled out a Christmas truce in the nearly 10-month-old war.
Alexei Kulemzin, the Russian-backed mayor of Donetsk city, said 40 rockets were fired from BM-21 Grad multiple rocket launchers at civilians in the early hours. Russian forces kept up shelling and air strikes along the entire eastern front line, killing one person, while two were killed in Kherson, Ukrainian officials said.
Moscow and Kyiv are not currently engaged in talks to end Europe’s biggest conflict since World War II, which is raging in the east and south of Ukraine with little movement on either side. On Wednesday, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said a Christmas ceasefire was “not on the agenda”.
Kulemzin cast the Donetsk attack as a war crime and said it was the biggest on the city since 2014, when pro-Moscow separatists seized it from Kyiv’s control. There was no immediate Ukrainian response to his comments.
“There is no calm on the front line,” Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said on Wednesday, saying Russian artillery attacks in the east had left “only bare ruins and craters”. He said this week Russia should start withdrawing by Christmas as a step to end the conflict, but Moscow rejected the proposal, saying Ukraine must first accept the loss of territory.

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