'Keep your hypocrisy': Ukraine rejects Russian ceasefire offer over Orthodox Christmas

'Keep your hypocrisy': Ukraine rejects Russian ceasefire offer over Orthodox Christmas
Russian President Vladimir Putin. Credit: Belga

Ukraine has rejected Russian President Vladimir Putin's offer of a 36-hour ceasefire over Orthodox Christmas on 6 and 7 January, Belga News Agency and Reuters have reported.

According to a Kremlin press release, Putin ordered Russian troops to observe the temporary truce after the idea was suggested to him by Patriarch Kirill, the leader of the Russian Orthodox Church.

"Taking into account the appeal of His Holiness Patriarch Kirill, I instruct the Minister of Defence of the Russian Federation to introduce a ceasefire regime along the entire line of contact of the parties in Ukraine from 12:00 on 6 January, 2023, to 00:00 on 7 January, 2023," Putin said.

Putin also called on Ukrainian forces to respect the ceasefire to allow Orthodox Christians the chance to "attend services on Christmas Eve, as well as on Christmas Day". Roughly 70% of Russians and Ukrainians identify as Orthodox Christian.

The ceasefire is the first large-scale one announced by Putin since Russia launched its full-scale invasion of Ukraine in February last year.

However, Putin's appeal for a temporary ceasefire was emphatically rejected by Ukrainian presidential advisor Mykhailo Podolyak, who denounced Putin's announcement as "propaganda" and a "cynical trap".

He added: "[Russia] must leave the occupied territories — only then will there be a 'temporary truce'. Keep hypocrisy to yourself."

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Earlier on Thursday, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan urged Putin in a phone call to implement a "unilateral ceasefire" in Ukraine. The Kremlin later responded that it was "open to serious dialogue" so long as Kyiv "takes into account the new territorial realities", referring to those regions in southern and eastern Ukraine illegally annexed by Russia.

In another tweet on Thursday, Podolyak condemned Putin's desire for "the world to recognise its right to seize foreign territories" as "fully unacceptable".

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