Putin orders ceasefire during Orthodox Christmas


Eastern Europe


A group of Performing Artists visit National Guard soldiers on Christmas Eve (December 24) at their position not far from the Russian border near Kharkiv, Ukraine. Photo EPA, Sergey Kozlov

Russian President Putin has ordered the Defence Minister that Russian soldiers should pause the attacks on Ukraine. The President wants a truce for the Orthodox Christmas days so that soldiers can attend church.

In total, the ceasefire should last 1.5 days, the Dutch daily Reformatorisch Dagblad and Interfax report. The truce is to start this Friday at 12.00, Moscow time. It is supposed to last until January 7 at midnight.

The goal of the truce is to allow soldiers to attend church services tonight on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day itself. Many Christians in both Russia and Ukraine celebrate Christmas Day according to the Julian calendar. That means that the date of holidays differs from the holidays of Western churches that use the Gregorian calendar.


The Kremlin requested Ukraine to cooperate with the truce and also put down its arms. However, Ukrainian President Zelensky is very critical of the Russian proposal. He thinks the Russians want to use the ceasefire to secretly bring extra soldiers and munition to the front in the Donbas. And moreover, Russia did not respect earlier requests for a humanitarian ceasefire from Ukraine.

In his daily video message on Thursday, Zelensky repeated that the war in Ukraine will not be over until all Russian soldiers have left the country or have been “thrown out.”

Earlier, the Russian Patriarch Kirill had already called for a Christmas truce. However, Michailo Podoljak, advisor to President Zelensky, also rejected that call. He called it a “cynical trap.”



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