Fighting rages on in eastern Ukraine despite Putin's 36-hour ceasefire order

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By Euronews  with AFP, AP
A cupola lies on the ground in front of the Orthodox Church which was destroyed by Russian forces in the recently retaken village of Bogorodychne, Ukraine, Saturday, Jan 7, 23
A cupola lies on the ground in front of the Orthodox Church which was destroyed by Russian forces in the recently retaken village of Bogorodychne, Ukraine, Saturday, Jan 7, 23   -   Copyright  Libkos/Copyright 2022 The AP. All rights reserved.

There was no respite in Ukraine over the weekend, as some artillery exchanges continued in eastern Ukraine. That's despite Russian President Vladimir Putin calling for a ceasefire to mark the Orthodox celebration of Christmas. 

But AFP journalists heard both outgoing and incoming shelling in the frontline city of Bakhmut in eastern Ukraine after the time when the Russian ceasefire was supposed to have begun.

Moscow's forces also hit Ukraine's eastern city of Kramatorsk, the Ukrainian presidential administration said, as well as the frontline town of Kurakhove where residential buildings and a medical facility were damaged.

The Russian Defense Ministry on Friday confirmed that it would adhere to the ceasefire proposed by Vladimir Putin. 

President Volodymyr Zelenskyy on Saturday said the Russian military was continuing to strike Ukrainian positions despite their declared ceasefire.

"The reality is Russian shells again hit Bakhmut and other Ukrainian positions," said Zelenskyy in his nightly video address.

As artillery boomed outside and fighter jets flew overhead, Orthodox Christians in a battered eastern Ukrainian town held a Christmas service in a basement shelter, vowing not to let war ruin the holiday and the celebration.

Despite the circumstances, Ukrainians braved the Orthodox celebrations, with the hope of a better new year.