Putin Orders 36-Hour Ceasefire in Ukraine

His forces will halt fighting to observe Russian Orthodox Christmas holiday
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Jan 5, 2023 10:07 AM CST
Putin Orders 3-Day Ceasefire in Ukraine
Russian President Vladimir Putin speaks on the phone from the Novo-Ogaryovo residence outside Moscow on Thursday.   (Mikhail Klimentyev, Sputnik, Kremlin Pool Photo via AP)

Russian President Vladimir Putin on Thursday ordered Moscow's armed forces to hold a 36-hour ceasefire in Ukraine this weekend for the Russian Orthodox Christmas holiday, the Kremlin said. The order follows a proposal by the head of the Russian Orthodox Church, Patriarch Kirill, and will start at noon on Friday, per the AP and the Telegraph. Putin also called on Ukraine to follow suit. "Based on the fact that a large number of citizens professing Orthodoxy live in the combat areas, we call on the Ukrainian side to declare a ceasefire and give them the opportunity to attend services on Christmas Eve, as well as on the Day of the Nativity of Christ," according to Putin's order, published on the Kremlin's website.

The Russian Orthodox Church, which uses the ancient Julian calendar, celebrates Christmas on Jan. 7—later than the Gregorian calendar—although some Christians in Ukraine also mark the holiday on that date. It wasn't immediately clear how Ukraine will respond. Earlier, Ukraine presidential adviser Mykhailo Podolyak dismissed Kirill's initial call as "a cynical trap and an element of propaganda." Meanwhile, Putin spoke by phone with Turkey's president Thursday, and the Kremlin said Putin "reaffirmed Russia's openness to a serious dialogue" with Ukrainian authorities. However, that came with the usual stipulation that Kyiv recognize Russia's territorial gains, which Ukraine has insisted is a nonstarter.

(More Russia-Ukraine war stories.)

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