Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered his troops to observe a cease-fire “along the entire line of contact between the parties in Ukraine” for Orthodox Christmas, just hours after the head of Russia’s Orthodox Church made a similar request, the Kremlin announced Thursday.
“I instruct the Minister of Defense of the Russian Federation to introduce from 12:00 January 6, 2023 until 24:00 January 7, 2023, a cease-fire along the entire line of contact between the parties in Ukraine,” the statement reads.
“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 cease-fire” so they can attend church services for Orthodox Christmas, Putin added.
Earlier on Thursday, Patriarch Kirill, the leader of the Russian Orthodox Church and a close ally to Putin, had made a similar request in a message posted on the church’s website.
Minutes later, Kirill’s statement was dismissed as a “cynical trap” and “an element of propaganda” by Ukrainian presidential adviser Mykhailo Podoliak on Twitter.
After Putin’s announcement, Podoliak doubled down on his statement, saying that Russia “must leave the occupied territories – only then will it have a ‘temporary truce’. Keep hypocrisy to yourself.”
Addressing the question of a potential cease-fire in Ukraine over the Christmas break, British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak said in December that “any unilateral call for a cease-fire by Russia is completely meaningless in the current context.”
A cease-fire, Sunak argued, would be a “false call,” and would only serve for Moscow to regroup its forces.