Russian President Vladimir Putin on Thursday ordered his military to observe a 36-hour ceasefire in Ukraine this weekend for the Russian Orthodox Christmas holidays, the first sweeping truce move of its kind in the near-siege war. 11 months.
Putin did not appear to condition his ceasefire order on a Ukrainian agreement to do the same, and it was unclear whether hostilities would stop at the 1,100-kilometre (684-mile) front line or elsewhere.
Ukrainian officials have previously dismissed Russian peace moves as buying time to regroup their forces and prepare for further attacks.
At various times during the war that began on February 24, Putin ordered limited, local truces to allow for the evacuation of civilians or for other humanitarian purposes. Thursday's order was the first time Putin had ordered his troops to observe a ceasefire across Ukraine.
Based on the fact that a large number of citizens professing Orthodoxy live in the fighting areas, 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 the Day of the Nativity of Christ, according to Putin's order, addressed to Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu and published on the Kremlin website.
While not necessarily the last official word from Kyiv, Ukrainian presidential adviser Mykhailo Podolyak tweeted that Russian forces must leave the occupied territories; only then will there be a temporary truce. Keep the hypocrisy to yourself.
Putin acted on the suggestion of Russian Orthodox Church leader Patriarch Kirill, who proposed a truce from noon Friday to midnight Saturday Moscow time (0900 GMT Friday to 2100 GMT Saturday; 4 am EST Friday to 3 pm EST on Saturday). The Russian Orthodox Church, which uses the old Julian calendar, celebrates Christmas on January 7. later than the Gregorian calendar although some Christians in Ukraine also mark the holiday on that date.
Podolyak had earlier dismissed Kirill's call as a cynical trap and propaganda piece. President Volodymyr Zelenskyy had proposed a withdrawal of Russian troops earlier, before December 25, but Russia rejected it.
Kirill has previously justified the war as part of Russia's metaphysical struggle to prevent a liberal ideological invasion from the West.
Independent political analyst Tatyana Stanovaya said Putin's ceasefire order is a logical step aimed at making him appear reasonable and interested in peace.
The move fits well with Putin's logic, in which Russia acts on the right side of history and fights for justice, he said.
We must not forget that in this war, Putin feels like a good guy, ‘doing good not only for himself and sister nations,' but also for the world that he is liberating from the hegemony of the United States,' Stanovaya, founder from the independent think tank R.Politik, wrote on Telegram.
He also linked Putin's move to the recent attack by Ukrainian forces in Makiivka that killed at least 89 Russian servicemen. He really doesn't want to get something like that for Christmas, the analyst said.
On the rainy streets of Kyiv, some questioned the sincerity of the Russians in discussing a truce.
Will we believe the Russians? Svitlana Zhereva wondered after Kirill's proposal. On the one hand, they have given their blessing to war and killing, and on the other hand they want to present themselves as saints who are against bloodshed. But they must be judged by their actions.
In addition to a possible ceasefire, diplomatic efforts were also aimed at stopping the war, at least temporarily. Putin spoke by phone with the Turkish president on Thursday and the Kremlin said the Russian president reaffirmed Russia's openness to serious dialogue with the Ukrainian authorities.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan urged Putin to implement a unilateral ceasefire, according to a statement from the Turkish president's office.
Erdogan also told Zelenskyy later by phone that Turkey was ready to broker a lasting peace. Erdogan has frequently made such offers, helping broker a deal that allowed Ukraine to export millions of tons of grain and facilitating a prisoner exchange between Ukraine and Russia.
Russia's stated preparation for peace talks came with the usual preconditions that the Kyiv authorities comply with known and reiterated demands and acknowledge new territorial realities, the Kremlin said, referring to Moscow's insistence that Ukraine recognize to Crimea as part of Russia and recognize other illegal territorial gains. .
Previous attempts at peace talks have failed on that hurdle, with Ukraine demanding that Russia withdraw from the occupied areas.
On the other hand, the NATO chief detected no change in Moscow's stance on Ukraine, insisting that the Kremlin wants a Europe in which it can control a neighboring country.
We have no indication that President Putin has changed his plans, his goals for Ukraine, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said in Oslo, Norway.
Individual NATO countries are stepping up their military support for Ukraine.
In the latest engagement, the French Defense Ministry said it plans talks soon with its Ukrainian counterpart on the delivery of armored fighting vehicles.
France's presidency says it would be the first time this type of Western-made wheeled tank destroyer would be sent to the Ukrainian military.
In the United States, President Joe Biden said that Bradley Fighting Vehicles, a medium armored fighting vehicle that can serve as a troop transport, could be sent to Ukraine.
As more weapons arrive, the battlefield situation seems to have stagnated, turning more and more into a war of attrition. As winter approaches, the mobility of troops and equipment is more limited.
In the latest fighting, Kyrylo Tymoshenko, deputy head of Ukraine's presidential office, said Thursday that at least five civilians have been killed and eight wounded across the country by Russian shelling in the past 24 hours.
An intense battle for the eastern city of Bakhmut has left 60 percent in ruins, Donetsk Governor Pavlo Kyrylenko said on Thursday.
The Ukrainian defenders appear to be holding the Russians back. Seizing the city in the Donbas region, a sprawling industrial area that borders Russia, would not only give Putin a huge battlefield advantage after months of setbacks, but would also sever supply lines from Ukraine and it would open the way for Moscow forces to advance on key Ukrainian strongholds in Donetsk.
[Disclaimer: This story was automatically generated by a computer program and was not created or edited by Journalpur Staff. Publisher: Journalpur.com]
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