Russian Patriarch Kirill calls for a ceasefire in Ukraine for Christmas
Russian Orthodox Church Patriarch Kirill, who is close to the Kremlin, called on Moscow and Kyiv to call for a ceasefire in Ukraine on the occasion of the Orthodox Christmas holiday. Meanwhile, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan urged his Russian counterpart, Vladimir Putin, to implement a “unilateral ceasefire” during a telephone interview. On the ground, Ukraine confirmed that Russia had lost 800 men in the last 24 hours. Follow the latest developments in the conflict live.
12:07 p.m.: Russia is ready for dialogue with Ukraine on condition of accepting the “new territorial reality”, says Putin
Russia is open to dialogue with Ukraine provided that Ukraine accepts the “new territorial reality” born of Russian aggression, President Vladimir Putin has said.
In a telephone conversation with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who called for a ceasefire in Ukraine, Vladimir Putin “reiterated that Russia is open to serious dialogue – provided that the authorities in Kyiv comply with his well-known and repeatedly expressed demands and take into account the new territorial realities.” according to a statement from the Kremlin.
11:03 a.m.: after the French, Olaf Scholz is under pressure to send tanks to Ukraine
German Chancellor Olaf Scholz was pressured by members of his coalition to give the go-ahead to send tanks to Ukraine after France announced delivery of light battle tanks.
“The Chancellor’s persistent argument that Germany should not go it alone is really over,” the head of the Defense Committee in the Bundestag, Marie-Agnes Strack-Zimmermann, a senior official, told AFP. , a member of the German Chancellor’s coalition.
Paris has promised Ukraine to deliver its French-made AMX-10 RC light battle tank, in response to kyiv’s urgent need to confront the Russian army.
Ukraine’s European allies have delivered Soviet-designed tanks before, but never Western ones, despite repeated requests from Kyiv.
“Once again, France is taking on the role expected of Germany and leading itself,” complained Ms. Strack-Zimmermann, for whom “the ball is now in the Berlin court”.
10:43 am: Recep Tayyip Erdogan urges Putin for a “unilateral ceasefire”
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has urged his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin to enforce a “unilateral ceasefire” in Ukraine.
“The call for peace and negotiations between Moscow and Kyiv must be supported by a unilateral ceasefire,” the Turkish head of state told Vladimir Putin in a telephone interview, according to a statement issued by the Turkish Presidency.
Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who will also meet Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky on Thursday, has followed a line from the start of the conflict that allowed him to maintain good relations with Russian President Vladimir Putin, while supplying Kyiv with arms.
As a member of NATO, Turkey does not associate itself with sanctions against Russia and seeks to maintain a mediator position between Kyiv and Moscow.
As such, Ankara played a key role in the September exchange of prisoners between Russia and Ukraine and in the conclusion in July, under the auspices of the United Nations, of a deal that would allow Ukraine’s export of cereals via the Black Sea and Bosphorus.
10:30 a.m.: what was the reaction in Ukraine after the announcement of the delivery of French tanks to kyiv?
French President Emmanuel Macron announced to his Ukrainian counterpart Volodymyr Zelensky on Wednesday that France would deliver an AMX-10 RC “light battle tank” to Ukraine.
10:11 a.m.: More than 800 Russian soldiers killed in one day, according to Ukraine
The Ukrainian army estimates that more than 800 Russian soldiers have been killed over the past few days, mainly during clashes in the Donetsk region in eastern Ukraine.
Fighting was concentrated in the Bakhmout sector, where Russian troops unsuccessfully attacked the cities of Avdiivka and Kupyansk, the Ukrainian army said in its daily update.
Russia also lost one plane, one helicopter and three tanks in the last day or so.
9:50 a.m.: Russian Patriarch Kirill calls for a ceasefire in Ukraine for Orthodox Christmas
Russian Orthodox Church Patriarch Kirill asked Moscow and Kyiv for a ceasefire in Ukraine on the occasion of the Orthodox Christmas holiday.
“I, Kirill, Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia, address all parties involved in the civil conflict to ask them to establish a ceasefire and seal the Christmas truce from 12 pm on January 6 at 12 am on January 7,” he said in a message posted on the church website.
In his opinion, this armistice must work so that “Orthodox can attend Christmas Eve and Day services” in Ukraine.
Russia and Ukraine are both predominantly Orthodox countries, but Kyiv has moved away from Moscow’s religious scrutiny in recent years, notably by establishing an independent Church.
Patriarch Kirill has been delivering sermons since the start of Russia’s offensive on Ukraine in which he gave his blessing to Russian troops while chastising Ukrainian authorities.
Ukraine, for its part, carried out a series of searches of churches and monasteries that depended on the Moscow Patriarchate for the purpose of “counter-intelligence” actions.
09:23: Ukraine’s economy will shrink by 30.4% in 2022
Ukraine’s gross domestic product (GDP) fell by 30.4% in 2022 according to preliminary estimates, a smaller decline than expected, said Economy Minister Yulia Sviridenko.
The fall is the biggest that the Ukrainian economy has suffered since the country’s independence in 1991, the minister said, due to the Russian invasion that began last February.
07:00: on the northern border of Ukraine, fear of a new invasion from Belarus
Russia threatens a new ground offensive in northern Ukraine from Belarus. Instead, Ukraine is preparing to repel a potential attack.
06:00: Criticism mounts in Russia after deadly Makiivka attack
Criticism increased in Russia after the New Year’s Eve attack on Russian soldiers in Makiivka, eastern Ukraine, which left the death toll at 89, according to Moscow, which blamed the use of military-worn phones.
In Russia, the announcement of the higher casualty toll did not fail to stir up renewed criticism of the military command, which was criticized on Monday and Tuesday for its “incompetence” by correspondents and commentators. Many Russians are demanding, on social networks, a transparent investigation into the circumstances of the strike.
The Ukrainian general staff confirmed carrying out this attack and the strategic communications department of the Ukrainian army claimed a much higher toll in Russian ranks, totaling 400 killed and 300 wounded. But this statement has not been confirmed by the staff.
The United States has also yet to comment on these figures. But John Kirby, a spokesman for the US National Security Council, said “there is no lament from the (US) government. This is war. (Ukraine) has been attacked and they fought back and defended themselves,” he said in a press interview on Wednesday.
“Russian soldiers on their territory are a legitimate target of military action for Ukraine, period,” he added.
With Reuters and AFP