Putin Orders Orthodox Christmas Truce; Ukraine Appears to Reject It

Russian leader Vladimir Putin, following a request from the Russian Orthodox Church’s Patriarch Kirill, announced Thursday that he will order his troops to observe a ceasefire in Ukraine from noon on Friday through the end of Saturday.

Saturday, January 7, marks the observance of Christmas Day in the Russian Orthodox faith.

A top Ukrainian presidential adviser responded to the news by calling the move “hypocrisy” and requiring Russia’s departure from “occupied territories” for any form of truce to take effect. Many Ukrainians reportedly celebrated this past Christmas on December 25, the traditional date for Catholics and Protestants, to break from Russian tradition.

Russia first invaded Ukraine in 2014, seizing the Crimean peninsula and fueling an eight-year-old insurgency in the eastern Donbass region until last February. At that time, Putin announced a “special operation” to overthrow the government of Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, on the grounds that the Ukrainian government was an alleged “Nazi” entity. The “special operation” marked the formal introduction of Russian troops to the Ukrainian war theater.

The current stage of the war has raged unabated for nearly a year. The Christmas truce, if observed and potentially elongated, could represent the first material move forward in resolving the conflict.


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