Russian President Vladimir Putin has ordered his military to observe a 36-hour ceasefire in Ukraine and asked Kyiv to do the same, the Kremlin said Thursday, in a move to coincide with Russian Orthodox Christmas.
Ukraine has previously indicated that it would not support such a move, and has long viewed suggestions of a truce as favoring Moscow.
Putin instructed his defense minister to institute a ceasefire «along the entire line of contact between the parties in Ukraine» starting at noon local time (4 a.m. ET) on Friday, the Kremlin said in a statement released on Telegram. The proposed Christmas truce would last until midnight local time (4 p.m. ET) on Saturday.
Ukrainian officials have yet to respond to Putin’s announcement, but earlier dismissed the idea when raised by Patriarch Kirill, a leader of the Russian Orthodox Church who enjoys a close association with the government and has provided a kind of spiritual cover for the invasion. .
Ukraine’s presidential adviser, Mykhailo Podolyak, dismissed Kirill’s call as «a cynical trap and a piece of propaganda.»
The Russian Orthodox Church, which uses the old Julian calendar, celebrates Christmas on January 7, later than the Gregorian calendar. Some Orthodox Christians in Ukraine recently celebrated Christmas on December 25 to show their anger and defiance at Moscow.
«Based on the fact that a large number of citizens professing Orthodoxy live in the areas of hostilities, we call on the Ukrainian side to declare a ceasefire and give them the opportunity to attend services on Christmas Eve, as well as on the Day of the Nativity of Christ,» Putin said.
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Associated Press contributed.