MOSCOW (Reuters) – Ukraine’s military said on Monday the war against Ukraine did not stop at Christmas, although Russian President Vladimir Putin said he was open to negotiations as his forces launched more than 40 missile strikes on Christmas Day.
Russian news agencies, quoting the Russian Ministry of Defense, reported that three Russian military personnel were killed in the early hours of Monday morning as a result of the wreckage of a Ukrainian drone that was shot down while attacking a base in the Russian region of Saratov. Read more
This is the second attack on al Qaeda this month. The base, located near the city of Saratov, about 730 kilometers (450 miles) southeast of Moscow and hundreds of kilometers from the front lines in Ukraine, was hit on December 5 in what Russia said were Ukrainian drone attacks on two Russian air bases. day.
Reuters could not immediately verify the reports.
Putin on Sunday said again he was open to negotiations and blamed Ukraine and its Western allies for not engaging in talks, a position the United States previously denied as a position given Russia’s relentless attacks.
“We are ready to negotiate with everyone involved in acceptable solutions, but it is up to them,” Putin said in an interview with state TV Russia 1. “We are not the ones who refuse to negotiate. They are.”
An adviser to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said Putin should return to reality and admit that it is Russia that does not want talks.
“Russia single-handedly attacked Ukraine and is killing citizens,” Chancellor Mykhailo Podolyak said on Twitter. “Russia does not want negotiations, but it is trying to avoid responsibility.”
Putin’s invasion of Ukraine on February 24 – which Russia calls a “special military operation” – triggered Europe’s biggest conflict since World War Two and the most serious confrontation between Russia and the West since the 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis.
Russian attacks on Ukrainian power plants have left millions without electricity, and Zelensky said Moscow will aim to make the last days of 2022 dark and difficult.
“Russia has lost everything it could this year… I know that darkness will not prevent us from leading the occupiers to new defeats. But we have to be ready for any scenario,” he said in a Christmas Day speech.
Ukraine traditionally celebrates Christmas on January 7, as does Russia.
However, some Orthodox Ukrainians have decided to celebrate this year on December 25, and Ukrainian officials, including Zelensky and Ukraine’s prime minister, issued Christmas wishes on Sunday.
And the Ukrainian army said in the early hours of Monday morning that Russian forces bombed in the past 24 hours dozens of towns in the regions of Luhansk, Donetsk, Kharkiv, Kherson and Zaporizhia.
“In the direction of Kherson, the enemy continues its artillery bombardment of populated areas along the right bank of the Dnipro River,” it added.
It added that the Ukrainian forces launched attacks on about 20 Russian targets.
Russia’s Defense Ministry said on Sunday that its forces had killed about 60 Ukrainian soldiers the day before along the Kobyansk-Lyman contact line and destroyed many pieces of Ukrainian military equipment.
Reuters could not immediately verify the reports.
The Kremlin says it will fight until all of its territorial goals are achieved, while Kyiv says it will not subside until every Russian soldier is expelled from the country.
Asked if the geopolitical conflict with the West was approaching a dangerous level, Putin said on Sunday: “I don’t think it is very serious.”
Ukraine and the West say Putin has no justification for what they describe as an imperial-style war of occupation.
A senior official in the Belarusian Ministry of Defense said on Sunday that the Russian-supplied Iskander tactical missile systems, which can carry nuclear warheads, and the S-400 air defense systems, have been deployed in Belarus and are operational.
“These types of weapons are on combat duty today and are fully prepared to perform the tasks for their intended purpose,” the ministry’s official, Leonid Kasinsky, said in a video posted on the Telegram messaging app.
It is not clear how many Iskander systems have been deployed in Belarus after Putin said in June that Moscow would supply them and air defense systems to Minsk.
Putin visited Minsk on Dec. 19, fueling speculation in Kyiv that he would pressure Belarus to join a new offensive in his faltering invasion.
Russian forces used Belarus as a launching pad for their failed offensive on the Ukrainian capital, Kyiv, in February, and there has been a growing flurry of Russian and Belarusian military activity in recent months.
Iskander-M, mobile guided missile system code named “SS-26 Stone” by NATO, replaced the Soviet-era “Scud”. The guided missiles have a range of 500 km and can carry conventional or nuclear warheads.
The S-400 is a mobile Russian surface-to-air missile interceptor system capable of engaging aircraft, drones, and cruise missiles and has an end-to-end ballistic missile defense capability.
Reporting by Reuters offices. Writing by Michael Berry; Editing by Himani Sarkar, Robert Purcell
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