Putin orders 36-hour ceasefire in Ukraine on public holidays

Zelenskyi’s adviser Mykhailo Podolyak tweeted that Russian forces “must leave the occupied territories – only then will there be a ‘temporary ceasefire'”.

The head of the National Security Council of Ukraine, Oleksiy Danilov, told Ukrainian TV: “We will not negotiate a ceasefire with them”.

He also tweeted: “What does a bunch of little Kremlin devils have to do with Christian Christmas? Who will believe an abomination that kills children, burns maternity hospitals and tortures prisoners? A truce? lies and hypocrisy. We will bite you into the singing silence of the Ukrainian night.”

US President Joe Biden declined to comment directly, but said Thursday at the White House it was “interesting” that Putin was prepared to bomb hospitals, kindergartens and churches on Christmas and New Year’s Eve (December 25 and 31). “I think he’s trying to find some oxygen,” he said.

Putin acted on a suggestion from the head of the Russian Orthodox Church, Patriarch Kirill, who proposed a ceasefire from Friday noon to Saturday noon (Russian time). The Orthodox Church, which uses the old Julian calendar, celebrates Christmas on January 7 – later than the Gregorian calendar – although some Christians in Ukraine also observe the holiday on that date.

Podolyak had previously dismissed Kirill’s call as “a cynical trap and an element of propaganda”. Earlier, before December 25, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy had proposed a Russian troop withdrawal, but Russia rejected it.

Kirill has previously justified the war as part of Russia’s “metaphysical struggle” to prevent liberal ideological interference from the West.

Independent political scientist Tatyana Stanovaya said Putin’s ceasefire order should make him appear reasonable and interested in peace.

View of an apartment building damaged during heavy fighting in Mariupol in the Russian-controlled Donetsk region.

View of an apartment building damaged during heavy fighting in Mariupol in the Russian-controlled Donetsk region.Credit:AP

The move “fits well with Putin’s logic, in which Russia is acting on the right side of history and fighting for justice,” she said.

We must not forget that in this war Putin feels like a ‘good guy’, doing good not only for himself and the ‘fraternal nations’, but also for the world he believes in from the ‘hegemony’ of the United States liberated.” Stanovaya, founder of the independent think tank R.Politik, wrote on Telegram.

She also linked Putin’s move to the recent attack by Ukrainian forces on Makiivka, which killed at least 89 Russian soldiers. “He really doesn’t want to get something like that for Christmas,” the analyst said.

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On the rainy streets of Kyiv, some questioned the sincerity of Russians in discussing a ceasefire.

“Should we believe the Russians?” Svitlana Zhereva wondered after Kirill’s suggestion. “On the one hand they have given their blessings to war and killing, on the other hand they want to present themselves as saints opposed to bloodshed. But they should be judged by their deeds.”

Putin issued the ceasefire order after Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan called on him in a phone call Thursday to implement a “unilateral ceasefire,” according to the Turkish President’s Office. The Kremlin said Putin had “reaffirmed” “Russia’s openness to serious dialogue” with the Ukrainian authorities.

Erdogan later told Selenskyj by telephone that Turkey was ready to mediate a “lasting peace”. Erdogan has made such offers frequently, helped broker a deal that allowed Ukraine to export millions of tons of grain, and has facilitated a Ukrainian-Russian prisoner exchange.

Russia’s declared willingness to hold peace talks comes with the usual conditions: that “the Kyiv authorities fulfill known and repeatedly expressed demands and recognize new territorial realities,” the Kremlin said, citing Moscow’s insistence that Ukraine recognize Crimea as part of Russia recognizes and others recognize illegal territorial gains.

Previous attempts at peace talks have scuppered over territorial demands from Russia, as Ukraine insists that Russia withdraw from the occupied territories.

AP

https://www.smh.com.au/world/europe/putin-orders-36-hour-holiday-weekend-cease-fire-in-ukraine-20230106-p5cape.html?ref=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_source=rss_world Putin orders 36-hour ceasefire in Ukraine on public holidays

Callan Tansill

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