Russian missiles rain down on Ukraine towns as Kyiv doubts Putin’s openness to talks


KVIV – Russian forces bombarded scores of towns in Ukraine on Christmas Day as Russian President Vladimir Putin said he was open to negotiations, a stance Washington has dismissed as posturing because of continued Russian attacks.

Russia on Sunday launched more than 10 rocket attacks on the Kupiansk district in the Kharkiv region, shelled more than 25 towns along the Kupiansk-Lyman frontline, and in Zaporizhzhia hit nearly 20 towns, said Ukraine’s top military command.

Russia’s defence ministry said on Sunday that it had killed about 60 Ukrainian servicemen the previous day along the Kupiansk-Lyman line of contact and destroyed numerous pieces of Ukrainian military equipment.

Reuters was not able to independently verify the reports.

Mr Putin’s Feb 24 invasion of Ukraine – which Moscow calls a “special military operation” – has triggered the biggest European conflict since World War II and confrontation between Moscow and the West since the 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis.

Despite Mr Putin’s latest offer to negotiate, there is no end in sight to the 10-month conflict.

“We are ready to negotiate with everyone involved about acceptable solutions, but that is up to them – we are not the ones refusing to negotiate, they are,” he told Rossiya 1 state television in an interview broadcast on Sunday.

An adviser to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said Mr Putin needed to return to reality and acknowledge it was Russia that did not want talks.

“Russia single-handedly attacked Ukraine and is killing citizens,” the adviser Mykhailo Podolyak tweeted. “Russia doesn’t want negotiations, but tries to avoid responsibility.”

Russian attacks on power stations have left millions without electricity, and Mr Zelensky said Moscow would aim to make the last few days of 2022 dark and difficult.

“Russia has lost everything it could this year… I know darkness will not prevent us from leading the occupiers to new defeats. But we have to be ready for any scenario,” he said in an evening video address on Christmas Day.

Ukraine has traditionally not celebrated Christmas on Dec 25, but Jan 7, the same as Russia. However, this year some Orthodox Ukrainians decided to celebrate the holiday on Dec 25 and Ukrainian officials, starting with Mr Zelensky and Ukraine’s prime minister, issued Christmas wishes on Sunday.

The Kremlin says it will fight until all its territorial aims are achieved, while Kyiv says it will not rest until every Russian soldier is ejected from the country.

Asked if the geopolitical conflict with the West was approaching a dangerous level, Mr Putin on Sunday said: “I don’t think it’s so dangerous.”

Kyiv and the West say Mr Putin has no justification for what they cast as an imperial-style war of occupation.



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