US says fighting in Ukraine continues despite 'truce'

A senior US official says fighting continues in Ukraine despite a temporary ceasefire ordered by Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense Laura Cooper spoke to reporters on Friday about the 36-hour ceasefire, which Putin called for to observe the January 7 Russian Orthodox Christmas.

Cooper said, "We see fighting today in Ukraine, even though technically we're in the ceasefire window." She said Putin's statement must be taken "with a grain of salt."

The deputy head of Ukraine's presidential office, Kyrylo Tymoshenko, said in a social media post that Russian shelling hit residential and hospital buildings in the eastern region of Donetsk just before the truce order took effect. He said many people were injured. Air raid warnings also sounded across Ukraine after the supposed ceasefire began.

Russia's defense ministry said its troops in Donetsk and elsewhere suffered attacks from Ukraine despite the truce being in effect.

The US Defense Department announced on Friday that the country will offer a security assistance package for Ukraine of over 3 billion dollars.

The aid includes 50 M2 Bradley infantry fighting vehicles. The department says the tracked armored vehicles are agile and provide mounted firepower.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said in his video address released on Friday that the new package is "a very powerful one." He said this will be the first time for Ukraine to obtain the Bradley fighting vehicles and they are exactly what is needed.