Ukraine: Putin, ceasefire for Orthodox Christmas. Kiev: ‘It’s hypocrisy, withdraw and you will have peace’ – World

A brief lull in the fighting – 36 hours in all – for the Orthodox Christmas, which falls on January 7th. And how much Vladimir Putin decided unilaterally, appealing to Ukraine to accept the suspension of hostilities. But Kiev replied that there will be a truce only when the Russians withdraw, while the US president Joe Biden he said it was just an attempt by Moscow to gain “some breathing space” to make up for the difficulties of its troops on the ground.

The EU reply also lasts, “There is an aggressor: the Kremlin. And a victim: the Ukrainian people. The withdrawal of Russian troops is the only serious option to restore peace and security. The announcement of a unilateral ceasefire is as false and hypocritical as annexations illegal and grotesque and the referenda that accompany them”, tweeted the president of the EU Council Charles Michael.

The Russian president’s decision came after a telephone conversation in the morning with the Turkish one Recep Tayyip Erdoganhad essentially rejected the latter’s call for a “unilateral ceasefire” – but longer than the brief Christmas period – to favor the search for a negotiated solution to the conflict, for which Ankara once again proposes itself as a mediator.

For the umpteenth time, Putin has said that his country is open to “a serious dialogue”, but only if Kiev “satisfies known requests and takes into account the new territorial realities”. In short, if Ukraine gives up insisting on regaining control of all its regions: not only Crimea, but also the four that Moscow annexed last autumn after referendums condemned by the international community and which, among other things, Russian troops only partially control.

And the head of the Kremlin added a polemic against Western countries, accusing them of playing “a destructive role” in Ukraine by continuing to arm it and supply it with intelligence information useful for its troops to identify targets. A few hours pass and Putin announces that he has ordered Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu to implement the Christmas truce, from noon on January 6 to midnight on the 7th, accepting a request to this effect from both sides of the Patriarch Kirillhead of the Russian Orthodox Church.

Simultaneously the Russian leader launches a appeal to Kiev to accept the temporary cessation of fighting, to allow all the Orthodox to participate in religious ceremonies. A pure “hypocrisy”, replies the Ukrainian presidential adviser Mykhailo Podolyak, who a few hours earlier had also harshly attacked Kirill, judging his request “a cynical trap” and accusing the Church he leads of acting “only as a war propagandist”.

“We cannot take them seriously,” Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba echoed. If Russia wants a truce, Podolyak insists, it has only one chance to get it: “withdraw from the occupied territories”.

But on the contrary, says Secretary of the Security and Defense Council of Ukraine Oleksii Danilov, Moscow is preparing for a new escalation in February, when the first anniversary of the beginning of the conflict will fall. If this were actually the scenario, Erdogan’s new peace initiative would start off decidedly uphill.

Speaking of the conversation he had with the Turkish leader, among other things, Zelensky he put the emphasis not so much on a general solution but on specific issues, such as the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant, the exchange of prisoners and the development of the grain export agreement. For the Ukrainian president, the good news of the day is new concrete military aid from NATO allies.

Joe Biden and Olaf Scholz, during a phone call, agreed to send American and German panzers to Kiev. Berlin also joins the US in supplying effective Patriot missile systems.

Meanwhile, while rumors of a possible visit by Putin to Donetsk, in the Donbass, on the occasion of Christmas, are chasing each other on Russian Telegram channels, civilians continue to die under bombs. Ukrainian sources report the killing of a couple and their 12-year-old son in a Russian bombing in Berislav, in the Kherson region. In the capital city, the death of a 20-year-old young man is reported, while in the community of Stepnohorsk, in the Zaporizhzhia region, two people are reported dead and three others injured.

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Ukraine: Putin, ceasefire for Orthodox Christmas. Kiev: ‘It’s hypocrisy, withdraw and you will have peace’ – World

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