Russian strongman, Vladimir Putin has ordered a temporary ceasefire in his country’s military aggression in Ukraine. In what Ukraine leaders said smacks ‘hypocrisy,’ the move is viewed as evidence that the bite from the EU sanctions is really getting into Kremlin. 

A report yesterday said the decision to call for the cease fire however followed a request by Russia’s spiritual leader, Patriach Kirill, on the eve of Orthodox Christmas. Many Orthodox Christians in Russia and Ukraine celebrate Christmas on January 6-7

The 36-hour ceasefire will begin at noon on January 6, the Kremlin said.
“Taking into account the appeal of His Holiness Patriarch Kirill, I instruct the defence minister of the Russian Federation to introduce from 12.00 (0900 GMT) on January 6, 2023, until 24.00 (2100 GMT) on January 7, 2023, a ceasefire along the entire line of contact between the sides in Ukraine,” the Russian leader said in a statement released by the Kremlin.

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“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,” Mr. Putin said in Thursday’s order.

Ukrainian and Russian forces are facing off over 1,500km of front line, with fighting intensity ranging from almost constant — such as the battle of Bakhmut in eastern Ukraine — to sporadic and almost quiet in some areas — such as the front line near Kherson in the south.

Patriarch Kirill of Moscow, the head of the Russian Orthodox Church, called on Thursday for both sides of the war in Ukraine to observe a Christmas truce.

Meanwhile, Ukraine has described Russia’s declaration of a ceasefire over the Orthodox Christmas as “hypocrisy”. Russia “must leave the occupied territories — only then will it have a ‘temporary truce’. Keep hypocrisy to yourself,”

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Ukrainian presidential adviser Mykhailo Podolyak wrote on Twitter in reaction to the Kremlin announcement. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy had proposed a Russian troop withdrawal earlier, before December 25, but Russia rejected it.

Earlier on Thursday, the Kremlin said that Mr. Putin had told Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan during a phone call that he was open to dialogue with Ukraine if Kyiv accepted territories occupied by Moscow as Russian.

Mr. Putin again confirmed Russia’s openness to serious dialogue on the condition that Kyiv authorities recognise the “new territorial realities”, the Kremlin said in a statement.

Mr. Erdogan called for peace talks during his conversation with Mr. Putin, his office said earlier.

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