(Update 1: Adds detail, changes headline, lead.)
Moscow, Jan 5 (EFE).- Russian president Vladimir Putin has ordered a 36-hour ceasefire along the front lines in Ukraine during the Orthodox Christmas period.
The order comes following a request Thursday from the head of the Russian Orthodox Church Patriarch Kirill.
“Taking into account the appeal of his Holiness Patriarch Kirill, I instruct the Minister of Defense of the Russian Federation to introduce from 12:00 January 6, 2023 until 24:00 January 7, 2023 a ceasefire along the entire line of contact between the parties in Ukraine,” a presidential statement said.
“Based on the fact that a large number of citizens professing Orthodoxy live in the combat areas, we call on the Ukrainian side to declare a ceasefire and give them the opportunity to attend services on Christmas Eve, as well as on the Day of the Nativity of Christ.”
Earlier Thursday, Putin reiterated he was open to dialogue with Ukraine but once again insisted that Kyiv would have to acknowledge Moscow’s conditions, including “new territorial realities.”
His remarks on peace talks were given during a telephone conversation with his Turkish counterpart Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
Putin’s office, which published excerpts from the call, said peace talks would be conditioned on Ukraine recognizing Russian demands and Moscow’s annexation of four Ukrainian regions — Donetsk, Luhansk, Zaporizhzhia and Kherson — as well as Crimea, annexed back in 2014.
Ukrainian officials have roundly rejected these conditions in the past and have called for ousting all Russian troops from Ukrainian territory, including Crimea.
The Kremlin has accused the West of stoking the conflict by supplying Kyiv with weaponry and assistance.
Patriarch Kirill’s call for a Christmas ceasefire earlier Thursday was shot down by Mykhailo Podolyak, a senior advisor to Ukraine’s president Volodymyr Zelenskyy, in a tweet.
He described it as a a “cynical trap” from an authority he accused of encouraging the “genocide” and “mass murder” of Ukrainians. EFE