Usually for a truce to work, even a temporary one, both sides have to be in agreement. Russian President Vladimir Putin is finding that out as a 36-hour ceasefire in the Ukraine war he called didn't get off to a great start on Friday, right as it began. The cessation was scheduled to start at noon Moscow time and end at midnight on Saturday, per Putin's orders to commemorate Russia's Orthodox Christmas holiday. But although Russia's Defense Ministry says its side stopped firing right when they were supposed to, artillery fire could still be heard along the front lines in Ukraine on Friday afternoon, and Russia claims Ukraine has continued to shell military positions and populated areas, per Reuters.
The BBC reports that, after the ceasefire went into effect, a Ukrainian rescue worker was killed and four were wounded in a Russian missile strike in the Kherson region in southern Ukraine, while Kramatorsk in the east also fell under attack. On the front lines in the eastern city of Bakhmut, artillery fire could be heard from both sides of the front line. A witness says that artillery fire in the city of Donetsk, also in the east, looked like it was "fired from pro-Russian positions on the city's outskirts," per Reuters.
Denis Pushilin, the Russia-installed leader of Donetsk, tells the news agency that Putin's ceasefire only applied to offensive actions and that his troops would fire back defensively if need be, while Vladimir Saldo, Putin's crony now leading Ukraine's Kherson region, said the ceasefire was merely a "gesture of goodwill" that wouldn't have any bearing on front-line action. "We are two and a half hours into this proclaimed ceasefire, and ... the whole territory of Ukraine is under air raid alert. So I think that speaks for itself," Ukrainian MP Inna Sovsun tells the BBC. "The Russians are making [the ceasefire] up." Ukraine, for its part, has openly said it doesn't recognize the truce, calling it a Putin stunt to buy time to reinforce Russia's troops.
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The United States appears to agree with Ukraine's assessment, with President Biden noting on Thursday that Putin was "trying to find some oxygen" with the ceasefire announcement, per the New York Times. "I am reluctant to respond to anything Putin says," Biden said. "I found it interesting he was ready to bomb hospitals and nurseries and churches on [Dec. 25] and New Year's." (More Russia-Ukraine war stories.)