Biden says Putin is trying to find “oxygen” with the truce proposal

Biden says Putin is trying to find “oxygen” with the truce proposal

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WASHINGTON, Jan 5 (Reuters) – U.S. President Joe Biden offered Vladimir Putin a fight in Ukraine after 10 months of war and thousands of lives lost that prompted the Russian president to propose a 36-hour truce, saying: “I think he is trying to find some oxygen.”

Kremlin said Putin ordered a ceasefire from midday on Friday after a call for a Christmas truce by Moscow Patriarch Kirill, head of the Russian Orthodox Church.

Ukraine has rejected a cease-fire offer to mark Russia’s Orthodox Christmas, saying there will be no truce until Moscow withdraws its invading forces from the occupied land.

Asked about the proposed truce, Biden told reporters at the White House: “I’m not inclined to respond to anything Putin says. I found it interesting that he was willing to bomb hospitals, nurseries and churches… at 25 and a new Year. I mean, I think he’s trying to get some oxygen.

Russia’s ambassador to Washington, Anatoly Antonov, accused the US administration of a lack of desire for a political settlement, adding that “even” the unilaterally announced ceasefire was being defined as an attempt to find oxygen.

“All this means that Washington is determined to fight us ‘to the last Ukrainian,’ and the fate of the Ukrainian people is of no concern to the Americans,” Antonov said in comments on the embassy’s Facebook page that were framed as answers to media questions.

Putin’s ceasefire will begin in time for the Russian Orthodox Church’s celebration of 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. Many Ukrainian believers have shifted their calendar to celebrate Christmas on December 25, as in the West.

It will be the first major ceasefire in the more than 10-month war that has killed tens of thousands and devastated large parts of Ukraine.

Reporting by Andrea Shallal, Steve Holland and Elaine Monaghan; writing by Susan Hevey and Kanishka Singh; Editing by Howard Goller and Stephen Coates

Our standards: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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