Putin ordered a ceasefire in Ukraine from 12:00 on January 6 to 24:00 on January 7, the time when Orthodox Christians in Russia and Ukraine celebrate Christmas.
The Kremlin said today that President Vladimir Putin had instructed the Defense Minister to a ceasefire in Ukraine during the Orthodox Christmas. This order was given at the request of Patriarch Kirill, leader of the Russian Orthodox Church.
“Given that a large number of Orthodox citizens live in the war zones, we call on the Ukrainian side to declare a ceasefire and allow them to participate in the Christmas Eve celebrations, as well as Christmas Day,” the Russian president’s order said.
Mykhailo Podolyak, a senior aide to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, rejected the Russian side’s ceasefire proposal, calling it “hypocritical.” “Russia must leave the occupied Ukrainian territories. Only then will they have a ‘temporary truce.’ Keep your hypocrisy to yourself,” Podolyak tweeted.
Podolyak also rejected Patriarch Kirill’s call for a Christmas ceasefire, calling the move a “trap” and “propaganda element.”
Russian churches celebrate Christmas on December 25 according to the Julian calendar, corresponding to January 7 of the following year according to the solar calendar. So, Orthodox Christians, including those living in Russia and Ukraine, celebrate Christmas on January 6-7.
Christmas is one of the most important holidays for Orthodox Christians, marking the end of Lent. Orthodoxy is also a popular religion in Ukraine, but its influence is said to have waned after Russia launched a military campaign in the country at the end of February 2022.
In a phone call earlier the same day with President Putin, Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan called on Russia to declare a unilateral ceasefire in Ukraine to support efforts to find a peaceful solution.
Putin responded by stating that Moscow was open for conversation but that Kyiv would have to recognise the loss of regions that Russia had claimed as its own.