Ukraine, the United States, and Germany rejected on Thursday Russian President Vladimir Putin’s declaration of a ceasefire on the eve of Orthodox Christmas which is celebrated this week by both countries involved in the war.
The ceasefire, which is expected to last 36 hours, will begin at noon on January 6.
According to the Kremlin, Putin ordered a temporary ceasefire in Ukraine on Orthodox Christmas – the first full ceasefire Russia introduced in Ukraine since the launch of the offensive in February last year – following a request from Russia’s spiritual leader Patriarch Kirill.
US President Joe Biden called Putin’s order for a two-day Orthodox Christmas ceasefire in Ukraine a simple effort to find breathing room for his war effort since he had no problem bombing hospitals and nurseries and churches on Catholic Christmas on December 25 and on New Year’s Day.
German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock, on the other hand, stressed in a post on Twitter that Putin’s so-called ceasefire brings neither freedom nor security to Ukrainians living in daily fear under Russian occupation, slamming the Russian president and noting he would’ve brought his soldiers home if he really wanted peace.
In reaction to the Kremlin announcement, Ukrainian presidential adviser Mykhailo Podolyak wrote on Twitter that Putin’s truce declaration is nothing more than a complete propaganda gesture as Moscow is trying in any way it can to decrease the fights intensity and the attacks on its logistical centers while it attempts to strengthen and regroup its troops.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky on Thursday also rejected Putin’s order for a temporary ceasefire in Ukraine, calling it a trick aimed at halting Ukraine’s forces in their progress in the eastern Donbas region while Moscow brings in more troops.
He said in his nightly video address that Moscow had repeatedly ignored Kyiv’s own peace plan, Russians are now trying to use Christmas as a covert to stop, albeit briefly, Kyiv’s troops in Donbas and bring its equipment, ammunition and mobilized troops closer to Ukrainian positions.
Addressing both the Kremlin and the Russian population in the Russian language, Zelensky underscored that the war would only end when Russian troops were out of Ukraine.