President Vladimir Putin has ordered Russian troops to impose a cessation in hostilities in Ukraine. Hours earlier, Primate of the Russian Orthodox Church Patriarch Kirill had called on the forces of both sides of the conflict to cease hostilities in the run-up to and during the holiday.
According to the Kremlin, the truce is intended to last from noon on Friday January 6 until midnight on Saturday January 7, when the Orthodox faithful traditionally celebrate the holiday.
“Judging by the fact that a lot of citizens who practice the Orthodox religion live in the embattled area, we call upon the Ukrainian side to proclaim a cessation of hostilities and give them the opportunity to attend services on Christmas Eve and on Christmas Day,” the Kremlin said in a statement.
Earlier on Thursday, Putin discussed the prospect of peace negotiations with Ukraine with his Turkish counterpart, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, over the phone. The Russian president reiterated that Moscow was “open to serious dialogue” with Kiev if the latter recognized the “new territorial realities.”
Erdogan responded by saying that “calls for peace and negotiations should be supported by a unilateral declaration of ceasefire and a vision of a just solution” of the conflict.
Ankara has offered to broker negotiations between Russia and Ukraine in the past. Any meaningful peace talks between Russia and Ukraine effectively collapsed by April, with both sides blaming each other for the collapse. Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said in late December that Ukrainian politicians were “incapable of negotiating,” adding that “the majority of them are blatant Russophobes.”