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Russian soldiers operate rocket launchers in Ukraine
It's unclear whether the Russian military will actually follow through with the temporary truceImage: Konstantin Mihalchevskiy/SNA/IMAGO

Ukraine says Russia cease-fire offer is a 'trick'

January 5, 2023

Russia has unilaterally called for a cease-fire from noon local time on January 6 to midnight on January 7, the same time as Orthodox Christmas celebrations. Ukraine dismissed Putin's proposal as "hypocrisy."


Russian President Vladimir Putin on Thursday ordered a unilateral 36-hour cease-fire in Ukraine from noon January 6 to midnight on January 7, the same time as Orthodox Christmas.

The Kremlin said Putin was influenced by Russian Orthodox leader Patriarch Kiril in making the decision.

"Taking into account the appeal of His Holiness Patriach Kirill, I instruct the defense minister of the Russian Federation to introduce from 12:00 (0900 GMT) on January 6, 2023 until 24:00 (2100 GMT) on January 7, 2023 a cease-fire along the entire line of contact between the sides in Ukraine," a statement from the Kremlin said.   

The announcement would be the first time a national cease-fire occurred in the war. It's unclear whether Putin and the Russian military will actually follow through with the decision.

Putin orders 36-hour ceasefire: DW's Killian Bayer

Ukraine dismisses Putin's calls

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said Putin's cease-fire announcement was a ruse in order to halt Ukraine's military advances.

"They now want to use Christmas as a cover, albeit briefly, to stop the advances of our boys in Donbas and bring equipment, ammunitions and mobilized troops closer to our positions," Zelenskyy said in his evening video address.

The Ukrainian president added that the war "will end either when your soldiers leave or we throw them out."

Presidential Adviser Mykhailo Podolyak earlier slammed the announcement saying it was hypocritical. 

He said a "temporary truce" would only be possible if Russia withdrew from the territory it is currently occupying in Ukraine.

"The Russian Federation must leave the occupied territories, only then will it have a 'temporary truce'...Keep hypocrisy to yourself," Podolyak wrote on Twitter.

In a more detailed statement to media, Podolyak said Putin's proposal was "A banal trick."

"There is not the slightest desire to end the war in this," he added. .

"Moreover, let me remind you that only Russia attacks civilian objects with missiles/drones, including places of religious rites, and does this precisely on Christmas holidays," he said, citing Russian attacks during the festive period.

He earlier dismissed Patriarch Kirill's call for a cease-fire as a "cynical trap and element of propaganda." Podolyak said the Russian Orthodox Church acts as a "war propagandist."

International reaction

Putin's decision follows a phone call with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who urged the Russian president to declare a "unilateral" cease-fire in Ukraine.

Meanwhile, German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock said if Putin really wanted peace, "he would bring his soldiers home."

"A so-called ceasefire brings neither freedom nor security to people living in daily fear under Russian occupation," Baerbock wrote on Twitter.

Ukraine has previously said any Russian call for a ceasefire would be an attempt by Moscow to secure some respite for its troops, a sentiment US President Joe Biden seems to share. 

When asked about Putin's order he said the Russian leader was  "seeking oxygen."

lo,wd/aw (AFP, Reuters)

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