Putin orders a ceasefire in Ukraine on January 6-7

Russian President Vladimir Putin on Thursday ordered his army to observe a ceasefire in Ukraine over Orthodox Christmas on January 6-7, the first major truce since the invasion began there. almost a year ago, which kyiv for its part described as “hypocrisy”.

This announcement comes after a call to this effect from the Russian Orthodox Patriarch Kirill, but also a proposal from the Turkish Head of State Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who telephoned Mr. Putin in the morning. “In view of the appeal of His Holiness Patriarch Kirill, I instruct the Russian Minister of Defense to introduce a ceasefire regime along the entire line of contact between the parties in Ukraine from 12:00 p.m. on 6 January of this year until midnight on January 7,” the Russian president said in a Kremlin statement.

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He also called on the Ukrainian forces to respect this truce in order to give the possibility to the Orthodox, the majority confession in Ukraine as in Russia, to “attend services on Christmas Eve, as well as on the day of the Nativity of Christ”. . This ceasefire is the first truce of a general nature since the beginning of the war, only local agreements having been concluded so far, such as for the evacuation of civilians from the Azovstal factory in Mariupol (south-east ) in April. “Russia must leave the occupied territories, only then will there be a” temporary truce “. Keep your hypocrisy”, reacted on Twitter the adviser to the Ukrainian presidency Mykhailo Podoliak.

Turkey as a mediator?

In his telephone conversation with Vladimir Putin, Erdogan had meanwhile proposed a “unilateral ceasefire” intended to support “calls for peace and negotiations between Moscow and kyiv”. The Turkish president, who is mediating in the conflict, also spoke Thursday with his Ukrainian counterpart Volodymyr Zelensky without however mentioning a request for a “unilateral ceasefire”.

Vladimir Putin had initially replied that Russia was ready for a “serious dialogue” with Ukraine on condition that the latter comply with Russian demands and accept the “new territorial realities” born of the invasion of this country in February. Moscow claimed in September the annexation of four regions occupied at least partially by its army in Ukraine, despite a series of military setbacks on the ground, on the pattern of that of the Ukrainian peninsula of Crimea in March 2014.

Volodymyr Zelensky insists on a total withdrawal of Russian forces from his country, Crimea included, before any dialogue with Moscow. Otherwise, he promises to take back the occupied territories by force. During his discussions with Erdogan, Vladimir Putin also once again denounced the “destructive role of Western countries” in the conflict because of their arms deliveries, crucial for the Ukrainian war effort. The Russian head of state accused the West of “feeding the kyiv regime with weapons and military equipment and providing it with operational and targeting information”.

A member of NATO, Turkey has not associated itself with the sanctions against Russia and is trying to maintain a position of mediator between kyiv and Moscow. It thus played a key role in particular in the agreement allowing the export of Ukrainian cereals.

Russian Patriarch Kirill has had little influence in Ukraine since the country established an independent Church in 2018-2019 and the one that remained loyal to Moscow severed ties with Russia in May. because of the invasion.

Rubble and broken glass

The truce was announced by Vladimir Putin less than a week after a Ukrainian strike on New Year’s Eve that killed at least 89 people in Makiivka, eastern Ukraine. A particularly deadly bombardment that the Russian army had to recognize, an extremely rare fact, and which aroused criticism in Russia against the military command.

On the front in Ukraine, the bombardments continued Thursday with in particular the death of a woman and her 12-year-old son in a Russian bombardment in Beryslav, near Kherson, in the south, according to the deputy head of the presidential administration Kyrylo Tymoshenko.

Two people were also killed and three others injured in a strike on a village in the Zaporizhia region, also in the south, according to Governor Oleksandre Staroukh. Residents of the eastern town of Chassiv Iar told AFP on Thursday that a Russian missile hit a building before dawn, injuring a man and a woman. The blast left piles of rubble and shattered glass outside the building and blew out the windows of a nearby building and hospital.

Olena, a resident of Chassiv Iar, ventured outside to buy food for her three dogs, as artillery fire sounded in the distance towards the city of Bakhmout, the epicenter fights. “When it gets really tough, we’ll leave town,” she told AFP. “I have three dogs. I will leave if anyone wants to take them, but no one wants to.” In this context, the United States and Germany plan to take a “new qualitative step” in their arms deliveries to Ukraine. According to several media, Berlin intends to deliver armored infantry fighting vehicles of the “Marder” type.

(with AFP)

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