Ukraine: Kyiv dismisses Putin’s ceasefire call as ‘hypocrisy’

Ukraine: Kyiv dismisses Putin’s ceasefire call as ‘hypocrisy’

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Russian President Vladimir Putin has ordered his defense minister to impose a temporary ceasefire in Ukraine for 36 hours this week to allow Orthodox Christians to attend Christmas services, according to a Kremlin statement on Thursday. But the proposal was quickly dismissed as “hypocrisy” by Ukrainian officials.

Putin’s order came after the leader of Russian Orthodox ChurchMoscow Patriarch Kirill called for a ceasefire between January 6 and 7, when many Orthodox Christians celebrate Christmas.

But Ukrainian officials expressed skepticism about the temporary ceasefire, saying Moscow simply wanted a pause to gather supplies, equipment and ammunition.

During his evening address on Thursday, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said Russia aims to use the Orthodox Christmas “as a cover” to resume supplies and stop the Ukrainian advance in the eastern Donbass region.

“What are you going to achieve with this? Just another increase in the number of victims,” ​​he added.

Serhiy Haidai, head of the Luhansk regional military administration, told Ukrainian television: “As far as this truce is concerned, they just want to have some sort of pause for a day or two to bring in more reserves, bring in more ammunition.”

“Russia cannot be trusted. They don’t say a word,” Haiday added.

Now in its 11th month, the battle, which many experts thought would be over in days or weeks, has turned into a war of attrition.

Both countries have taken hits in recent weeks: Ukraine’s economy shrank by more than 30% last year, with Russian missile strikes destroying civilian infrastructure, leaving many without heating in the dead of winter. Meanwhile, Ukrainian attacks on Russian barracks have killed a significant number of Russian soldiers and sparked controversy in Russia.

Ukrainian presidential adviser Mykhailo Podoliak responded to Putin’s move on Twitter, saying Russia must leave “occupied territories” in Ukraine before any “temporary truce.”

“First. Ukraine does not attack foreign territory and does not kill civilians. Like RF [Russian Federation] makes … Second. The Russian Federation must leave the occupied territories – only then will there be a “temporary truce”. Keep the hypocrisy to yourself,” Podoliak said.

The proposal for a temporary truce also caused consternation among the international community.

US President Joe Biden expressed skepticism on Thursday, telling reporters he was “reluctant to respond to everything Putin says. I found it interesting. He was ready to bomb hospitals, nurseries and churches on the 25th and New Years.

He continued, “I mean, I think he’s trying to get some oxygen.”

US State Department spokesman Ned Price described it as “cynical” and that the US has “little faith in the intentions behind” Russia’s proposed ceasefire.

German Foreign Minister Analena Berbock also warned on Thursday that the cease-fire pledge would bring “neither freedom nor security” to people living under Moscow’s brutal war.

“If Putin wanted peace, he would have brought his soldiers home and the war would have ended. But apparently he wants to continue the war after a short hiatus,” she said in a tweet.

Putin’s order comes after he spoke with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan – who sought to position himself as a mediator between the Russian president and the West – where Putin said he was open to “serious dialogue” on Ukraine, but Kyiv should to accept “new territorial realities,” the Kremlin said in a statement.

The Kremlin’s full statement on Thursday read: “Taking into account the call of His Holiness Patriarch Kirill, I instruct the Minister of Defense of the Russian Federation to introduce from 12:00 a.m. on January 6, 2023 until 12:00 a.m. on January 7, 2023.” , a ceasefire along the entire contact line between the parties in Ukraine.

“Based on the fact that a large number of citizens professing Orthodoxy live in the areas of hostilities, we call on the Ukrainian side to announce a cease-fire and provide them with the opportunity to attend Christmas Eve and Nativity services. of Christ.”

Cyril was an outspoken supporter of Russia’s war in Ukraine and delivered a sermon in September, in which he said that “military duty washes away all sins.”

The leader of the Russian Orthodox Church is also at loggerheads with Pope Francis, who has described the invasion of Ukraine as Russian “expansionism and imperialism”.

And in May the Pope called Patriarch Kirill and not to “become Putin’s assistant.”

In November, a branch of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church announced it would allow its churches to celebrate Christmas on December 25, rather than January 7, as is traditional in Orthodox congregations.

The announcement by the Kiev-based Orthodox Church of Ukraine widened the rift between the Russian Orthodox Church and other Orthodox believers.

In recent years, much of Ukraine’s Orthodox community has drifted away from Moscow, a move accelerated by the conflict Russia ignited in eastern Ukraine in early 2014.

Ukrainians, who have been suffering from nearly a year of conflict, expressed disbelief at Putin’s statement.

In the southern region of Kherson, Pavlo Skotarenko does not expect much to change. “We are shelled every day, people die in Kherson every day. And this temporary measure will not change anything,” he said.

From the front line in Ukraine’s eastern Luhansk region, a Ukrainian soldier told CNN that the announcement of a temporary ceasefire appeared to be an attempt to clean up Russia’s image.

“I don’t think this is being done for any military tactical purpose, one day won’t solve much,” the Ukrainian soldier, who goes by the call sign Archer, told CNN by phone.

“Perhaps this is done to make the image of the whole of Russia a little more human because so many atrocities keep coming up and it might win them some points of support from the people,” the soldier said.

And in the capital, Kyiv, where Russian New Year attacks have soured even the most modest celebrations, Halina Hladka said she saw the temporary ceasefire as an attempt by the Russians to buy time.

“Russia has already shown active use of faith in many types of manipulation. And besides, for almost a year of war, Russia has not behaved like a country capable of keeping promises,” she said.

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