AIn view of the upcoming Orthodox Christmas, Russian President Vladimir Putin has announced a day and a half ceasefire in Ukraine. Putin instructed the Russian Defense Ministry to cease hostilities in the neighboring country from Friday noon until Sunday night, according to a Kremlin statement on Thursday. Ukraine is opposed to a ceasefire under Russian occupation – before a ceasefire, Russian troops must leave Ukraine, said an aide to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy.
The head of the Russian Orthodox Church, Patriarch Kirill, had previously spoken out in favor of keeping the guns silent at Orthodox Christmas. “I, Kirill, Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia, call on all sides involved in the internal conflict to cease fire,” Kirill said in a statement. From January 6 at 12 p.m. to January 7 at midnight it should be possible for “the faithful to be able to attend mass on Christmas Eve and on the day of Christ’s birth”. The Eastern Churches celebrate Christmas on January 7 according to the Julian calendar.
This is Kirill’s first call for a cessation of hostilities, at least temporarily, since the start of the Russian war of aggression against Ukraine. Kirill is considered a close confidant of Putin and justified the war as a campaign against evil. After the mobilization in the fall, he promised Russian soldiers absolution. Death in this war is a kind of sacrifice with which the person “washes away all sins,” he said at the time. Most recently, he sat in a room with generals at an extended meeting of the Russian Defense Ministry.
Kyiv rejected Kirill’s appeal. “It is a cynical trap and an element of propaganda,” Presidential Advisor Mykhailo Podoliak wrote on Twitter on Thursday. The Russian Orthodox Church is also not an authority in global orthodoxy and only acts as a “war propagandist”. Podoljak accused the Moscow Patriarchate of calls for genocide against the Ukrainians.
In a telephone conversation with Putin, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan called for a “unilateral ceasefire”, although the statement by the Turkish Presidential Office did not make it clear that he was addressing the Russian side.