Putin orders 36-hour ceasefire in Ukraine as Christmas truce, Kyiv rejects

Vladimir Putin, the President of Russia, has announced a 36-hour truce in Ukraine through his defense minister, starting this Friday. This decision by Russia is being taken as Moscow will be celebrating the Russian Orthodox Christmas on Saturday, Jan 7, 2023. In return, Russia has asked Ukraine to follow a similar suit and to cooperate with this decision, especially Putin himself. But this request was rejected by Kyiv as Volodymyr Zelensky, the president of Ukraine, said that Russia is just finding ways to prevent Ukraine’s progression into the war. However, according to the Kremlin, the request to cease the fight was made by the Russian Orthodox Church to Putin. The Church wanted to allow believers in the country to be able to attend Christmas Day without having to worry about their well-being. The Kremlin also said that this decision does not mean that Russia is trying to back down from the war but is just doing so at the request of the Church.

The Russian Orthodox Church celebrates Orthodox Christmas on January 7 every year, according to the Julian calendar. This is called Orthodox Christmas as the Catholic churches celebrate Christmas on December 25 of every year. The Russian Orthodox Church is also the largest Orthodox Christian Church in the Eastern world. Because of this, the size of followers of the Russian Orthodox Church is huge. Russian Orthodox Christmas is celebrated by Russian families as they visit the church and they have a big family meal. But because of the war situation, this year’s Orthodox Christmas was in jeopardy as people are in fear of a Ukraine missile strike. The recent missile strike by Ukraine which supposedly killed around 400 Russian soldiers according to Ukraine, the fear was indeed true. Because of this, Patriarch Kirill of Moscow, the head of the Russian Orthodox Church, made a request to Russian President, Vladimir Putin for a ceasefire with Ukraine, for allowing people to come out of their homes and visit the church. Based on this request, Russia has imposed a ceasefire across the entire line of control with Ukraine for 36 hours. 

Although Russia has given valid reasons for a ceasefire, Ukraine has declined Russia’s request to correspond with its decision. According to Russia, the areas which have been exposed to the war contain a large number of civilians who are followers of the Orthodox church. Hence, having a ceasefire from both sides will allow these people to attend church and celebrate the biggest festival in their religion. But Ukraine has said that its military is rapidly progressing in the regions around Donbas, where they could gain an upper hand over Russian military forces. But by asking for a ceasefire, Russia is trying to stop this progression so that they can increase the size of their forces that are present in Donbas. The Ukrainian government pointed to the efforts Zelensky made in the past for peace, which were rejected by Russia. The foreign minister of Ukraine even pointed out several of Russia’s attacks which targeted the Ukrainian population during tough times.