Russian President Vladimir Putin on Thursday directed a 36-hour ceasefire in Ukraine to run during Orthodox Christmas, a move that war-battered Kyiv swiftly branded as “hypocrisy”.
Putin’s directive to his troops was announced days after Moscow suffered its deadliest reported loss of the invasion, and following 11 months of brutal combat.
Both nations celebrate Orthodox Christmas and the Russian leader’s order came after a ceasefire was urged by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Russia’s spiritual leader Patriarch Kirill, a staunch Putin supporter.
“Taking into account the appeal of His Holiness Patriarch Kirill, I instruct the defence minister of the Russian Federation to introduce… a ceasefire along the entire line of contact between the sides in Ukraine,” said a Kremlin statement.
It will run from 12:00 (0900 GMT) January 6, until 24:00 (2100 GMT) on January 7, the Kremlin said.
Kyiv attacked the announcement, calling it “hypocrisy”.
Russia “must leave the occupied territories — only then will it have a ‘temporary truce’. Keep hypocrisy to yourself,” Ukrainian presidential adviser Mykhailo Podolyak wrote on Twitter.
Russia occupies parts of eastern and southern Ukraine after 11 months of fighting, but Kyiv has reclaimed swathes of its territory and this week claimed a New Year’s strike that killed scores of Moscow’s troops.
Earlier Thursday Erdogan, who has good relations with Moscow, had urged Putin to declare a “unilateral” ceasefire during a telephone conversation between the two leaders, the Turkish leader’s office said.
The Kremlin reported that Putin told Erdogan he was open to dialogue if Kyiv accepted the “new territorial realities” on the ground.
After votes that were internationally branded as farces, Russia annexed the Donetsk, Lugansk, Zaporizhzhia and Kherson regions despite not fully controlling them.
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