Putin orders Orthodox Christmas truce in Ukraine; Zelenskyy dismisses it as trick
Updated 19:42, 16-Jan-2023

Russian President Vladimir Putin on Thursday ordered a 36-hour truce along the entire line of contact between the parties in Ukraine from January 6 to 7, a move dismissed by Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy as a trick.

"Taking into account the appeal of His Holiness Patriarch Kirill, I instruct the Russian Defense Minister to introduce a ceasefire regime along the entire line of contact between the parties in Ukraine from 12:00 on January 6 to 24:00 on January 7," the Kremlin said in a statement.

Russia's Orthodox Church observes Christmas on January 7. Ukraine's main Orthodox Church has been recognized as independent by the church hierarchy since 2019 and rejects any notion of allegiance to the Moscow patriarch.

"Proceeding from the fact that a large number of citizens professing Orthodoxy live in the areas of hostilities, we call on the Ukrainian side to declare a ceasefire and allow them to attend services on Christmas Eve, as well as on Christmas Day," Putin said.

Zelenskyy, for his part, rejected the truce order out of hand, saying it was a trick to halt the progress of Ukraine's forces in the eastern Donbas region and bring in more of their own.

Speaking pointedly in Russian and addressing both the Kremlin and Russians as a whole, Zelenskyy said Moscow had repeatedly ignored Kyiv's own peace plan. The conflict would end, he said, when Russian troops left Ukraine or were thrown out.

"They now want to use Christmas as a cover, albeit briefly, to stop the advances of our boys in Donbas and bring equipment, ammunition and mobilized troops closer to our positions," Zelenskyy said in his nightly video address.

(With input from Xinhua, Reuters)

(Cover: Tank cars are pictured at an oil depot that caught fire after a shelling attack by the Armed Forces of Ukraine, in the city of Shakhtyorsk, 48km east of Donetsk, October, 27, 2022. /CFP)

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