Russian President Vladimir Putin has ordered a one-day ceasefire in his now-10-month invasion of Ukraine that aligns with the Orthodox Christmas.
Putin instructed his top military leader, Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu, to order troops to hold fire for 36 hours, starting at noon on Friday and ending at midnight Saturday, Reuters reported. That’s when Christmas is observed on the Orthodox Christian calendar used in Russia and Ukraine.
A senior aide to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, Mykhailo Podolyak, appeared to reject notions of a Christmas truce on Twitter.
“[The Russian Federation] must leave the occupied territories – only then will it have a ‘temporary truce,’” Podolyak tweeted. “Keep hypocrisy to yourself.”
Several rounds of peace talks have been held since the Russian invasion began in February, but no ceasefire has ever emerged as both sides insist on conditions unacceptable to the other, the New York Times reported.
The head of the Russian Orthodox Church, Patriarch Kirill, also called for an identical Christmas ceasefire on Thursday, Reuters reported. Podolyak also dismissed that move as a “cynical trap” on Twitter.
The church “is not an authority for global Orthodoxy & acts as a ‘war propagandist,’” said Podolyak, adding that it “called for the genocide of Ukrainians, incited mass murder & insists on even greater militarization of [the Russian Federation]. Thus, [the Patriarch’s] statement about ‘Christmas truce’ is a cynical trap & an element of propaganda.”
A Kremlin spokesman said in mid-December that a Christmas truce was “not on the agenda”, Reuters reported. The spokesman, Dmitry Peskov, said “no such offers have been received from anybody.”
Also on Thursday, Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan announced he had told Putin that “calls for peace and negotiations should be supported by a unilateral ceasefire,” Reuters reported. That followed Putin’s recent remark that “we are not the ones refusing to negotiate, they are,” referring to Ukraine, as reported by Reuters.
This was a breaking news story. The details were periodically updated as more information became available.