War in Ukraine: Putin orders 36-hour unilateral ceasefire for Orthodox Christmas (and what is Kyiv’s response)
- BBC News World
Vladimir Putin has decided to give the Ukrainians a break and has ordered his troops to cease attacks on their neighbor for the next 36 hours.
The Russian president has taken the measure in response to the request made hours before by the Patriarch of the Russian Orthodox Church, Cyril, who requested a ceasefire between Friday and Saturday, in respect a Christmas parties.
Russians and Ukrainians are predominantly Orthodox Christians and therefore celebrate the birth of Christ in Januarybecause they are guided by the Julian calendar and not by the Gregorian.
“(President) Putin ordered (Defense Minister Igor) Shoigu to introduce a ceasefire regime from the 12:00 p.m. (local time) from January 6 until midnight (local time) January 7 along the entire line of combat of the parties in Ukraine,” Russian state media announced, citing information from the Kremlin.
This is the first unilateral ceasefire that Moscow announces since on February 24, 2022, he ordered his army to invade neighboring Ukraine.
“I, Cyril, Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia, call on all parties involved in this conflict to ceasefire and call a truce for Christmas“, the religious hierarch said in a message, in a message published on the website of the Russian Orthodox Church.
But the religious leader is not the only one who has advocated an end to the fighting. This Thursday the president of Turkey, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, did the same during a telephone conversation that he had with his Russian counterpart.
The Kremlin’s Christmas gift was not well received by the Kyiv government, which described it as “a trap” and “propaganda”.
Adviser to the head of the office of the President of Ukraine Mykhailo Podolyak criticized the double standards of the Russian patriarch.
“The Russian Orthodox Church is not an authority for global Orthodoxy and acts only as a ‘war propagandist,'” Podolyak wrote on Twitter.
The official recalled that cyril has blessed the invasion of Ukraineencouraged mass murder and endorsed the militarization of the Russian Federation.
Because of his alignment with the Kremlin the religious has been sanctioned by the UK and Canadian governments.
“The Russian Orthodox Church’s statement on the ‘Christmas truce’ is a cynical trap and a piece of propaganda,” Podolyak added.
The Ukrainian authorities had taken it for granted that during the Christmas celebrations the invading troops would launch new attacks with missiles and kamikaze dronesas they have been doing in recent months, in response to Kyiv’s successful counteroffensive, which has allowed it to recover part of the territory lost in the early stages of the conflict.
During New Year’s Eve Russia bombed Ukrainian cities and during Easter it ordered its soldiers to continue the fighting.
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