Vladimir Putin ordered a ceasefire for January 6-7


After Russian Patriarch Kirill called for a ceasefire in Ukraine for Orthodox Christmas, Russian President Vladimir Putin followed up by ordering it on Friday 6 January and Saturday 7 January. Shortly before that, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan had urged his Russian counterpart to implement 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.

Key information to remember:

  • Putin ordered a ceasefire in Ukraine for January 6-7
  • New death toll from Ukrainian New Year attack on Russian-occupied Makivka reported to rise to 400 killed, 300 injured
  • John Kirby, spokesman for the US National Security Council, reiterated his support for Ukraine, calling Makiivka a “legitimate target”.
  • Strong criticism increased in Russia, denouncing the Russian military command and its “incompetence”

Vladimir Putin ordered a ceasefire for January 6-7

Russian President Vladimir Putin on Thursday ordered his troops to observe a ceasefire in Ukraine over Orthodox Christmas on Jan. 6-7, the first major truce since the invasion began there nearly a year ago, which Kyiv described as “hypocrisy”. This announcement comes after a call to effect from Russian Orthodox Patriarch Kirill, but also a proposal from Turkey’s Head of State Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who called Putin in the morning.

“Recalling the call of His Holiness Patriarch Kirill, I instructed the Minister of Defense of Russia to introduce a cease-fire regime along the lines of contact between the parties in Ukraine from 12:00 on January 6 this year until midnight on January 7,” the Russian president said in a statement. the Kremlin statement.

Russian Orthodox Church Patriarch Kirill called for a ceasefire the previous day so “Orthodox can attend services on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day” in Ukraine.

This is the first general ceasefire since the start of the war, only local agreements have been agreed so far, such as the evacuation of civilians from the Azovstal factory in Mariupol (southeast) in April. “Russia must leave the occupied territories, only then will there be a ‘temporary truce’. Take care of your hypocrisy”, reacted on Twitter to Ukrainian presidential adviser Mykhailo Podoliak.

Erdogan had proposed a ceasefire earlier in the day

In his telephone conversation with Vladimir Putin, Erdogan proposed a “unilateral ceasefire” meant to support “peace calls and negotiations between Moscow and Kyiv”. Turkey’s president, who has mediated in the conflict, also spoke on Thursday with his Ukrainian counterpart Volodymyr Zelensky without mentioning a call for a “unilateral ceasefire”. Mr. Putin initially replied that Russia was ready for “serious dialogue” with Ukraine on condition that Ukraine complied with Russia’s demands and accept the “new territorial reality” born of this country’s invasion in February.

Moscow claimed in September the annexation of four territories occupied at least partially by its army in Ukraine, despite a series of military setbacks on the ground, to the pattern of Ukraine’s Crimean peninsula in March 2014. Volodymyr Zelensky insisted on a total withdrawal of Russian troops from his country, including Crimea, before entering into dialogue with Moscow . If not, he vowed to take back the occupied territories by force.

During his discussions with Erdogan, Putin also once again denounced the “destructive role of Western countries” in the conflict due to their arms shipments, which are critical to Ukraine’s 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”.

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. Thus playing 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 church that has remained loyal to Moscow cut ties with Russia in May because of the invasion.

International reaction to the ceasefire

German diplomacy predicted Thursday that Russia’s “so-called” truce in Ukraine on the occasion of Orthodox Christmas would bring “neither freedom nor security to people living in fear every day under Russian occupation”. “If Putin wants peace, he will bring his soldiers home and the war will end. But it seems he wants to resume the war, after a brief lull,” Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock said in a Twitter post.

On the United States side, Joe Biden on Thursday estimated that Vladimir Putin was trying to “give free rein” by declaring a ceasefire in Ukraine on the occasion of Orthodox Christmas, the first major truce since the start of the Russian invasion. The President of Russia “is ready to bomb hospitals, nurseries and churches (…) on December 25th and on New Years (…) I think he’s trying to get some fresh air”, said Joe Biden during a speech at the White House.

Criticism rained down on Russia after the deadly Makiivka attack

Criticism increased in Russia after the New Year’s Eve attack on Russian soldiers in Makiivka, eastern Ukraine, which Moscow says claims the death toll was 89 due to the military’s use of cellphones. 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.

“Legitimate target” according to the United States

The United States has also not yet commented 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. On the Russian side, the initially announced death toll of 63 was revised upwards on Wednesday following the discovery of new bodies in the rubble of buildings in Makiïvka, which was the target of a Ukrainian strike at midnight on January 1, Russian General Sergei Sevrioukov said in a statement. video message broadcast by his ministry.

Geolocation attack

According to him, the “main cause” of the attack was “massive use by personnel of mobile phones” despite the ban on doing so, which allowed Ukrainian forces to geolocate these Russian troop concentrations. Sergueï Sevrioukov assured that “necessary steps were taken to avoid such tragic events in the future” and that “those responsible will be held accountable”.

These were the heaviest casualties in a single offensive acknowledged by Moscow since the offensive began in February, which came after a series of humiliating military setbacks on the ground. According to Russian media, the victims were mobilized, therefore not professional soldiers.

In Russia, the announcement of the higher casualty toll did not fail to stir up fresh criticism of the military command, which was criticized on Monday and Tuesday for its “incompetence” by correspondents and commentators. The boss of channel RT, the spearhead of Kremlin propaganda internationally, Margarita Simonian, called for the names of the Russian officers involved to be made public and to take “a measure of their responsibility”.

“It’s time to understand that impunity does not lead to social harmony. Impunity leads to new crimes. And, hence, public dissent,” he wrote on Telegram.

Russian soldiers are praised for their “heroism”.

Pro-Russian separatist leader Denis Pushilin praised the “heroism” of the soldiers who survived the Ukrainian assault, who “risked their lives” by going to “save their comrades” under the rubble. According to him, the deputy regiment commander was killed.

In a message posted on Telegram late Wednesday, he said he was visiting the wounded with Viktor Goremykin, Russia’s deputy defense minister, and Dmitry Azarov, governor of the Samara region where some of the victims were from. . Almost all of the injured were transferred to other regions of Russia to receive medical treatment there, said Denis Pushilin.

Omissions in the Russian army?

Many Russians are demanding, on social networks, a transparent investigation into the circumstances of the strike. “They will drag this out and in the worst case they will put it on someone’s back,” fears Valeri Boutorin on the VK network.

“It’s not the cell phones and their owners that are to blame, but the superficial negligence of the commander, who I’m sure didn’t even try to move staff out of the building,” the group lashed out. “Notes from a veteran” on Telegram which has 200,000 subscribers. According to the Russian army, this strike was carried out using the Himars missile system, a weapon supplied by the United States to Ukraine, which allows it to strike deep behind enemy lines.

“We are providing and we will continue to provide (Ukrainian citizens) the equipment and assistance they need to defend themselves. And yes, we have provided Himars and we may provide more in the future,” said John Kirby, spokesman for the Security Council. US National.

During a telephone interview, French President Emmanuel Macron announced to his Ukrainian counterpart Volodymyr Zelensky that France would deliver French-made “light battle tanks” to Ukraine, according to the Elysée. On Twitter, Volodymyr Zelensky thanked France for the new aid. The number of tanks and delivery time are not specified.

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