The Ukrainian military fully supports the state of ceasefire in the war zone of Donbas, but it will give an appropriate response to any enemy attack, according to Ukraine's top commander of the Armed Forces Lieutenant General Valeriy Zaluzhniy.
"Our military keep serving their duties," the general said on Dec. 23. "They guard their homeland, protect civilians and themselves. Or course, if there's a threat to the life and health of military personnel or civilians, the military must act the same way as they did before."
Ukrainian soldiers aren't banned from opening fire in response to attacks by Russian-led militants, the commander added.
"But then again, we are the military, we absolutely support the state of ceasefire that would, of course, give us a chance to avoid possible fatalities," he said.
Amid the ongoing security crisis with Russia, which massed over 100,000 troops surrounding Ukraine threatening a large-scale military action, an internationally-mediated Russian-Ukrainian talks group agreed on Dec. 22 to continue formally sticking to a state of ceasefire declared by the sides in July 2020.
Despite formal armistice, low-intensity hostilities never completely died down, having claimed the lives of over 60 Ukrainian military servicepersons killed in action since then.
The ongoing period nicknamed "the longest ceasefire" has seen a number of controversies. In September 2020, the Ukrainian Defense Ministry even issued an ill-fated decree introducing fines for military personnel opening fire to respond to enemy attacks without a direct order from their commanding officers.
The decree sparked a huge uproar in Ukraine's military community.
According to international estimates, Russia's war in the Donbas has claimed over 13,000 lives since its start in 2014, including 4,500 Ukrainian combatants.
for an independent Ukraine