Ukraine: Kyiv dismisses Putin’s call for ceasefire as ‘hypocrisy’



CNN

Russian President Vladimir Putin has ordered his defense minister to impose a temporary 36-hour ceasefire in Ukraine this week to allow Orthodox Christians to attend Christmas services, according to a Kremlin statement on Thursday. But Ukrainian officials quickly dismissed the proposal as “hypocritical.”

Putin’s order came after the leader of the Russian Orthodox Church, Patriarch Kirill of Moscow, called for a ceasefire between January 6 and January 7, when many Orthodox Christians celebrate Christmas.

But Ukrainian officials have expressed skepticism about the temporary ceasefire, saying Moscow only wants a break to stockpile reserves, equipment and ammunition.

During his late-night address on Thursday, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said Russia aims to use Orthodox Christmas “as a cover” to resupply and stop Ukrainian advances in the eastern Donbass region. .

“What will this achieve? Just another increase in the death toll,” he added.

The head of Luhansk’s regional military administration, Sirhi Hedai, told Ukrainian television: “About this ceasefire – they just want to get some kind of break for a day or two, to get more reserves. , some more ammunition can be brought.”

Russia cannot be trusted. He didn’t say a word,” Heidai added.

Now in its 11th month, the war that many experts thought would be over in days or weeks has turned into a vicious war.

Both sides have suffered setbacks in recent weeks: Ukraine’s economy shrank by more than 30 percent last year, Russian missile attacks have damaged urban infrastructure, leaving many without heat in the height of winter. Meanwhile, Ukrainian attacks on Russian barracks have killed a significant number of Russian soldiers and fueled conflict within Russia.

Mykhailo Podoliak, a Ukrainian presidential adviser, responded to Putin’s move on Twitter, saying Russia must leave Ukraine’s “occupied territories” before any “temporary ceasefire”.

“First. Ukraine does not invade foreign territory and kill civilians. As RF [Russian Federation] Does… second. The RF must leave the occupied territories – only then will it have a ‘temporary ceasefire’. Keep the hypocrisy to yourself,” Podoliak said.

The proposal for a temporary ceasefire also raised eyebrows in the international community.

US President Joe Biden expressed skepticism on Thursday, telling reporters he was “reluctant to respond to anything Putin said. I found it interesting. He visited hospitals, nurseries on the 25th and New Year’s. And was ready to bomb the churches.

“I mean, I think he’s trying to find some oxygen,” she continued.

US State Department spokesman Ned Price described it as a “joke” and said the US had “little confidence in the intentions behind” Russia’s proposed ceasefire.

German Foreign Minister Annalina Bierbach also warned on Thursday that the cease-fire promise would not bring “freedom or security” to people living in Moscow’s brutal war.

“If Putin wants peace, he will take his troops home, and the war will be over. But apparently, he wants to continue the war after a short break,” he said in a tweet.

Putin’s order came after talks with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan – who has tried to position himself as a broker between the Russian president and the West – where Putin said he would “regard” Ukraine. are open to “serious talks”, but Kyiv must accept “serious talks”. New regional realities,” according to a Kremlin statement.

The full statement from the Kremlin on Thursday read: “Taking into account His Holiness Kirill’s appeal, I would instruct the Minister of Defense of the Russian Federation to introduce from 12:00 January 2023 to 24:00 January 7, 2023 , a ceasefire along the entire line of contact between the parties in Ukraine.

“Based on the fact that a large number of citizens professing Orthodoxy live in war zones, we call on Ukraine to declare a ceasefire and offer them Christmas and birthday services. I provide an opportunity to participate in. Christ’s.”

The Primate of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church, Metropolitan of Kyiv and Ukrainian Epiphany, presides over the Divine Liturgy at Saint Michael's Golden-Domed Cathedral in Kyiv, December 7, 2021.

Karel has been a vocal supporter of Russia’s war in Ukraine, and gave a sermon in September in which he said “military duty washes away all sin.”

Leaders of the Russian Orthodox Church are also locked in a spat with Pope Francis, who has described the invasion of Ukraine as Russian “expansionism and imperialism”.

And in May, the pope urged Patriarch Karel not to “be Putin’s altar boy.”

In November, a branch of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church announced that it would allow its churches to celebrate Christmas on December 25 instead of January 7, as is traditional in the Orthodox Church.

The announcement by the Orthodox Church, headquartered in Kyiv, Ukraine, widened the rift between the Russian Orthodox Church and other Orthodox believers.

A large part of the Orthodox community in Ukraine has drifted away from Moscow in recent years, a movement fueled by the Russian-led conflict in eastern Ukraine that began in 2014.

Ukrainians, who have been in conflict for almost a year, expressed disbelief at Putin’s announcement.

In Kherson’s southern region, Pavlo Skotarenko doesn’t expect much to change. “They shell us every day, people die every day in Kherson. And this temporary measure will not change anything,” he said.

From the front lines in Ukraine’s eastern Luhansk region, a Ukrainian soldier told CNN that the announcement of a temporary ceasefire looked like an attempt to clean up Russia’s image.

“I don’t think it’s done for a military tactical purpose, one day will not be resolved,” the Ukrainian soldier, who goes by the call sign Archer, told CNN by phone.

“Maybe this is done to make the image of Russia as a whole a little bit more humane, because a lot of atrocities are constantly being exposed, and it might get them a few points of support from the people,” the soldier said.

And in the capital, Kyiv, where Russian attacks over the New Year marred even the most modest celebrations, Halina Hladka said she saw the temporary truce as an attempt by the Russians to buy time.

“Russia has already shown an active use of faith in a variety of manipulations. And besides, nearly a year into the war, Russia has not presented itself as a country that keeps its promises. You have the ability.”

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