February 7, 2023

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Putin announces a truce for 36 hours – Kyiv refuses

The Russian President declared a ceasefire to celebrate Christmas. “No” from Ukraine that speaks of hypocrisy.

The President of Russia – who celebrates Christmas on January 7 – declared a ceasefire from 12 noon on January 6 until midnight on January 7.

In his message, Vladimir Putin stated that “after the appeal of Patriarch Kirill, I instructed the Minister of Defense of the Russian Federation to impose a truce for Christmas.”

He added, “Due to the fact that a large number of Orthodox Christians live in combat zones, we call on the Ukrainian side to declare a ceasefire and allow them to attend services on Christmas Eve, as well as on Christmas Day.”

Zelensky refuses

Moments later, the Ukrainian side announced that it rejected the cease-fire proposal, and a senior official called it hypocrisy on the part of Vladimir Putin.

“The Russian Federation must leave the occupied territories – only then will there be a ‘temporary armistice’,” he said. “Keep the hypocrisy to yourself,” presidential adviser Michael Podolak wrote on Twitter.

This was followed by President Volodymyr Zelensky’s attack on Russia, which he accused of seeking a cease-fire in order to stop the advance of Ukrainian forces in the Donbass region and to strengthen the occupation forces.

“Now they want to use Christmas as a pretext, at least for a while, in order to stop the advance of our men in the Donbass and bring in equipment, ammunition and troops,” Zelensky said, among other things, in a videotaped speech.

“What will this do to them? It’s just one increase in their losses so far,” he added, and emphasized that the war “will only end when your soldiers leave or we expel them.”

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Earlier, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov questioned whether Podolak’s rejection of the proposed 36-hour ceasefire reflected Volodymyr Zelensky’s view.

“It is difficult for us to judge whether (Mikhail) Podolak’s opinion reflects the opinion of the President of Ukraine,” Peskov was quoted as saying by Interfax news agency.

Deaf dialogue for a cease-fire

The appeal of the Russian Patriarch was not the only proposal heard today for a cease-fire in Ukraine, something similar was proposed by Recep Tayyip Erdogan to Vladimir Putin.

The Turkish president told his Russian counterpart in a phone call that efforts to achieve peace in the Russo-Ukrainian war must be supported by a unilateral ceasefire and “a vision of a fair solution”.

Putin’s response was clear and stated that “Russia is open to a serious dialogue, provided that the authorities in Kyiv fulfill the stated and repeatedly declared demands and take into account the new regional realities.”

Refusal from Kyiv soon followed, with a high-ranking Ukrainian official calling a peace agreement “totally unacceptable” that would allow Russia to keep occupied Ukrainian lands.

“Axiom: Why is it impossible to reach an agreement with the Russian Federation?” Ukraine’s presidential advisor, Mykhailo Podolak, wrote on Twitter.

“With the word ‘talks’, the Russian Federation (Putin) proposes to Ukraine and the world to recognize its ‘right to occupy foreign lands’ and ‘prove that there are no legal consequences for mass killings on foreign soil.’ It is absolutely unacceptable,” he added.

United Nations: Ceasefire is not a substitute for a just peace

A spokesman for UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said he would welcome any cease-fire “knowing that such a cease-fire will not replace a just peace in accordance with the UN Charter and international law.”

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Meanwhile, Guterres disbanded the mission to find evidence of the attack on the Ukrainian town of Olenivka last July, in which Ukrainian prisoners were killed by pro-Russian separatists. The reason, according to his spokesman, is that the mission cannot be deployed at that location.

Russia and Ukraine called for an investigation into the attack. Guterres announced the establishment of the mission in August.

For his part, US President Joe Biden claimed that Putin, who a few hours before the Russian president was “ready to bomb hospitals, nurseries and churches,” is looking for “oxygen” with the 36-hour truce.