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Key developments on Jan. 6:
- Luhansk governor reports 14 instances of Russian fire in the first hours of Putin's 'Christmas ceasefire'.
- Russia's shelling kills in 1 Kherson, 1 in Donetsk Oblast during the 'truce'.
- US to provide $3 billion military aid package to Ukraine.
Russian President Vladimir Putin's unilateral ceasefire along the front line in Ukraine from midday on Jan. 6 to midnight on Jan. 7 didn't last even an hour, according to Ukrainian officials.
Shortly after noon Moscow time, when the truce supposedly came into effect, Deputy Head of the President's Office Kyrylo Tymoshenko reported the artillery shelling of the southern city of Kherson, with the city's fire department among the targets of the attack.
Kherson Oblast Governor Yaroslav Yanushevysh later confirmed one firefighter was killed and four were injured in the shelling. He said it was the second attack on the local rescuers in two days. The firefighters act as first responders on the scenes of Russian attacks.
"The so-called Russian ‘Christmas truce’ is about a grandmother who came under fire in her own home on Christmas Eve. The rescuer's family will not see their hero return home. Four rescuers will meet Christmas in the hospital," the governor said.
On the same day, the city of Kurakhove in the eastern Donetsk Oblast came under Russian fire, Pavlo Kyrylenko, the region's governor, said. The shelling reportedly hit two high-rise buildings and damaged a department of the local hospital, resulting in at least one injury.
In the neighboring Luhansk Oblast, Moscow troops opened fire 14 times during the first three hours of the truce, according to Serhii Haidai, the region's governor. In addition to firing artillery, Haidai said Russian forces also tried to storm one of the liberated villages in the area.
"People in the liberated villages shelter in basements all day," Haidai said. "Orthodox murderers greet you on Christmas."
Putin cited the occasion of the Orthodox Christmas to order a unilateral ceasefire. The Orthodox Christmas on Jan. 7 remains the primary celebration date for most believers, although Ukraine has made the Western Christmas on Dec. 25 an official holiday as well.
The truce offer has been met with skepticism from both Kyiv and the West, with many viewing it as a ploy by Putin to regroup. President Volodymyr Zelensky dismissed Putin's ceasefire proposal as insincere.
"Those who continued the terror against our country and sent their people to be slaughtered definitely do not value life and even more so do not seek peace," Zelensky said.
In recent weeks, Ukrainian officials stepped up their rhetoric on the prospects of Russia's war in Ukraine. Intelligence chief Kyrylo Budanov announced Ukraine is planning a major counteroffensive in spring, while Zelensky said in late December that "Ukraine is on track to victory that all generations have dreamed of."
U.S. to send $3 billion in aid to Ukraine with new air defense missiles
"The war is at a critical point, and we must do everything we can to help the Ukrainians resist Russian aggression," Karine Jean-Pierre, White House press secretary, said announcing a $3 billion aid package to Ukraine on Jan. 6.
The U.S. aid package includes 50 Bradley fighting vehicles, 100 M113 armored personnel carriers, 55 mine-resistant ambush-protected vehicles (MRAPs), and 138 Humvees, as well as ammunition for HIMARS (High-Mobility Artillery Rocket Systems) and air defense systems and other weapons, according to officials.
The package consists of $2.85 billion in direct aid and $225 million in military financing for Ukraine's military modernization.
More military aid from Germany
The European Union countries also vowed to scale up their contributions to Ukraine in a bid to help Ukraine achieve a breakthrough in the war.
Germany said on Jan. 6 it would provide Ukraine with 40 Marder infantry fighting vehicles.
According to Nils Schmid, a foreign policy spokesman for the Social Democratic Party, the vehicles could be delivered in the first quarter of 2023.
"We are far from tired of supporting Ukraine," he said.
After months of negotiations, Germany announced that it would be providing Ukraine with the Marder infantry fighting vehicles following a phone call between U.S. President Joe Biden and German Chancellor Olaf Scholz.