Ukrainian troops celebrate holidays on the frontlines, Biden meets with Putin and Zelensky

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Ukrainian troops celebrate holidays on the frontlines, Biden meets with Putin and Zelensky

Between December 26 and January 1, the Joint Forces Operation (JFO) reported 31 ceasefire violations on the part of the Russian-backed forces in eastern Ukraine. As a result of occupation aggression, one Ukrainian solider was killed, and four injured.

Ukraine Crisis Media Center published a tribute to the three soldiers who were killed in Donbas in December 2021: Valerii Herovkin, Stanislav Zaporozhets, and Stanislav Bohuslavskyi.

The JFO shared via Facebook how Ukrainian military forces were celebrating the holidays on the frontlines. Last week, soldiers in the OTU “North” handed out over 250 sets of gifts from the French philanthropy “Medical and Charitable Aid France-Ukraine” to students in boarding schools in the Luhansk region.

On December 25, Russia’s Southern Military District began returning 10,000 troops to their permanent bases after a month of “field training,” according to Echo of Moscow. The National Security and Defense Council of Ukraine has reported that 122,000 Russian troops are positioned 200 km from Ukraine’s border. Additionally, the OSCE Special Monitoring Mission in Ukraine spotted more than 90 tanks located outside designated storage sites (i.e., in violation of withdrawal lines) in occupied Luhansk territories on December 23 and 24.

On December 30, the Ukrainian and French navies held joint exercises in the Black Sea. The crews communicated exclusively in English, as a key focus of the training was to improve interoperability and coherence of the crews.

President Biden and President Putin spoke on the phone for nearly an hour on December 30, exchanging warnings and threats. While Biden urged Putin to de-escalate the situation or pay a “heavy price,” Putin countered that major sanctions against Russia would be a “colossal mistake” and could result in “a complete rupture of relations.” Three days later, Biden spoke with President Zelensky on the phone for 90 minutes and once again “reaffirmed the United States’ commitment to Ukrainian sovereignty and territorial integrity.”