In order to mark the occasion, Russian President Vladimir Putin has ordered his troops to ceasefire for 36 hours over the festive weekend. The President urged Ukraine to do the same following a call by Patriarch Kirill, the leader of the Russian Orthodox Church.
Ukraine rejected the truce, which would begin on January 6 at noon, over fears it is a “cynical trap”.
Putin said: “We call on the Ukrainian side to declare a ceasefire and allow them to attend services on Christmas Eve, and well as on Christmas Day.”
President Volodymyr Zelensky used his nightly address to slam Russia’s offer of a truce over the Orthodox Christmas period.
He said: “They now want to use Christmas as a cover, albeit briefly, to stop the advances of our boys in the Donbas and bring equipment, ammunitions, and mobilised troops closer to our positions.
“What will that give them? Only yet another increase in their total losses.”
He concluded by telling Russia that the war “will end either when your soldiers leave or we throw them out”.
Zelensky’s adviser Mykhailo Podolyak called Patriarch Kirill a “war propagandist” who supported Russia’s invasion and claimed that Putin’s truce was a “cyncical trap and an element of propaganda”.
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Meanwhile, US President Joe Biden told reporters at the White House: “I’m reluctant to respond to anything that Putin says.
“I found it interesting that he was willing to bomb hospitals and nurseries and churches…on the 25th and New Year’s.
“I mean I think he’s trying to find some oxygen.”