Russian president Russian President Vladimir Putin His defense minister ordered Ukraine to implement a temporary 36-hour ceasefire this week to allow Orthodox Christians to attend Christmas services, according to a statement from the Kremlin on Thursday. But the proposal was quickly dismissed as “hypocritical” by Ukrainian officials.
Putin’s order came after the leader Russian Orthodox ChurchPatriarch Kirill of Moscow has called for a ceasefire between January 6 and January 7, when many Orthodox Christians celebrate Christmas.
But Ukrainian officials have expressed doubts about the temporary ceasefire, saying Moscow just wants a pause to collect reserves, equipment and ammunition.
During his Thursday evening address, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said Russia aims to use Orthodox Christmas as a “cover” to resupply and stop Ukrainian advances in the eastern Donbass region.
“What will this achieve? Just another increase in the number of victims.”
“Regarding this truce – they just want to have some kind of pause for a day or two, to pull up more reserves, bring in more ammunition,” Serhiy Hayday, head of the Luhansk regional military administration, told Ukrainian TV.
Russia cannot be trusted. Heyday added not a single word they say.
Now in its eleventh month, a battle that many experts thought would be over in a matter of days or weeks has become an uphill battle.
Both sides have been hit in recent weeks: Ukraine’s economy has shrunk by more than 30% last year, as Russian missile strikes pounded civilian infrastructure, leaving many without heat in the height of winter. Meanwhile, Ukrainian attacks on Russian barracks killed a large number of Russian troops and sparked controversy within Russia.
An adviser to Ukrainian President Mykhailo Podolak responded to Putin’s move on Twitter by saying that Russia must leave the “occupied territories” in Ukraine before any “temporary armistice”.
“First. Ukraine does not attack foreign lands and does not kill civilians. Like the RF [Russian Federation] No… Secondly. Russia must leave the occupied territories – only then will it have a “temporary truce”. Podolak said: Keep the hypocrisy to yourself.
The proposal for a temporary armistice also raised the eyebrows of the international community.
US President Joe Biden expressed his skepticism on Thursday, telling reporters he was “reluctant to respond to anything Putin says. I found it interesting. He was willing to bomb hospitals, nurseries and churches on the 25th and the New Year.”
He continued, “I mean, I think he’s trying to find some oxygen.”
US State Department spokesman Ned Price called it “cynical” and that the US “doesn’t have much confidence in the intentions behind” Russia’s proposed ceasefire.
German Foreign Minister Annalina Berbock also warned on Thursday that the promise of a cease-fire would not bring “freedom or security” to people living in the shadow of Moscow’s brutal war.
If Putin wants peace, he will take his soldiers home, and the war will end. “But it seems that he wants to continue the war after a short break,” she said in a tweet.
Putin’s order comes after he spoke with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan – who has tried to present himself as a mediator between the Russian president and the West – in which Putin said he was open to “serious dialogue” on Ukraine, but that Kyiv must accept “new regional realities,” according to a Kremlin statement. .
The full statement from the Kremlin on Thursday read: “Taking into account the appeal of His Holiness Patriarch Kirill, I instruct the Minister of Defense of the Russian Federation to introduce from 12:00 January 6, 2023 until 24:00 January 7, 2023, a ceasefire along the line of Full contact between parties in Ukraine.
“Based on the fact that a large number of citizens who profess Orthodoxy live in the combat zones, we call on the Ukrainian side to declare a ceasefire and give them the opportunity to attend services on Christmas Eve, as well as on Christmas Day.
Kirill was a staunch supporter of the Russian war in Ukraine, and delivered a sermon in September, in which he said that “military service washes away all sins.”
The leader of the Russian Orthodox Church has also come into conflict with Pope Francis, who has called the invasion of Ukraine “Russian expansion and imperialism.”
And in May, the Pope urged Patriarch Kirill Not to “become Putin’s altar boy”.
In November, a branch of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church announced that it would allow its churches to celebrate Christmas on December 25, instead of January 7, as is customary for Orthodox congregations.
The declaration of the Kyiv-based Ukrainian Orthodox Church widened the rift between the Russian Orthodox Church and other Orthodox believers.
In recent years, much of Ukraine’s Orthodox community has turned away from Moscow, a movement accelerated by the conflict fueled by Russia in eastern Ukraine beginning in 2014.
Ukrainians, who have suffered from the conflict for nearly a year, expressed their distrust of Putin’s declaration.
In the southern Kherson region, Pavlo Skutharenko doesn’t expect much change. “They bomb us every day, people die in Kherson every day. And this temporary measure will not change anything.
From the front lines in eastern Ukraine’s Luhansk region, a Ukrainian soldier told CNN the announcement of the temporary ceasefire appeared to be an attempt to clean up Russia’s image.
“I don’t think this is being done for a military tactical purpose, it won’t solve much one day,” the Ukrainian soldier, passing by the call sign Archer, told CNN by phone.
“Maybe this was done to make the image of the whole of Russia more humane,” said the soldier, “because many atrocities are constantly shown, and this might earn them a few points of support from the people.”
And in the capital Kyiv, where Russian attacks over the new year have strained even the most modest celebrations, Halina Hladka said she saw the temporary ceasefire as an attempt by the Russians to buy time.
Russia has already shown an active use of faith in many kinds of manipulation. And besides, for almost a year of war, Russia has not acted as a country capable of keeping promises.