Russia-Ukraine war at a glance: what we know on day 317 of the invasion

Ukraine rejects Russia’s proposed ceasefire; Germany sending additional Patriot air defence battery to Ukraine

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The Ukrainian president, Volodymyr Zelenskiy, has rejected out of hand a Russian order for a truce over Orthodox Christmas, saying it was a trick to halt the progress of Ukraine’s forces in the eastern Donbas region and bring in more of their own. Speaking pointedly in Russian and addressing both the Kremlin and Russians as a whole on Thursday, Zelenskiy said Moscow had repeatedly ignored Kyiv’s own peace plan.

The Russian president, Vladimir Putin, instructed his defence minister, Sergei Shoigu, to introduce a 36-hour ceasefire along the entire line of contact in Ukraine from noon on Friday to midnight on 7 January, the Kremlin said. Russian troops must hold fire for 36 hours in order to allow people “in the areas of hostilities” to mark Orthodox Christmas, Putin said.

The war would end, Zelenskiy said, when Russian troops left Ukraine or were thrown out. “They now want to use Christmas as a cover, albeit briefly, to stop the advances of our boys in Donbas and bring equipment, ammunitions and mobilised troops closer to our positions,” the Ukrainian leader said in his nightly video address. “What will that give them? Only yet another increase in their total losses.” He said the war “will end either when your soldiers leave or we throw them out”.

The US state department expressed skepticism over Putin’s announced ceasefire, describing it as “cynical” given Moscow’s New Year’s Day attack on Ukraine and saying the US had “little faith” in the announcement’s intentions.

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Putin’s announcement came hours after the head of the Russian Orthodox church, Patriarch Kirill, called for a ceasefire and a Christmas truce in Ukraine. In a statement, Kirill said he appealed to “all parties involved in the internecine conflict” for the ceasefire, so that “Orthodox people can attend services on Christmas Eve and the day of the Nativity of Christ”.

Germany will join the US in supplying an additional Patriot air defence battery to Ukraine, the White House has announced, after the German chancellor, Olaf Scholz, and the US president, Joe Biden, spoke by phone. The two leaders “expressed their common determination to continue to provide the necessary financial, humanitarian, military and diplomatic support to Ukraine for as long as needed”, the White House said in a statement.

The US believes that Vladimir Putin’s ally Yevgeny Prigozhin is interested in taking control of salt and gypsum from mines near the Ukrainian-held city of Bakhmut, a White House official said on Thursday. There were indications that monetary motives were driving Russia’s and Prigozhin’s “obsession” with Bakhmut, the official added. Prigozhin is the owner of private Russian military company Wagner Group.

Germany’s economy minister, Robert Habeck, said Germany providing weapons to Ukraine was a “good decision” during a Thursday briefing. Habeck’s department has to approve weapons exports.

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