After Russian Patriarch Kirill called for a ceasefire in Ukraine for Orthodox Christmas, the President of Russia Vladimir Poutine followed up by ordering it on Friday January 6 and Saturday January 7. Shortly before, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan had urged his Russian counterpart to apply a “unilateral ceasefire” in Ukraine. “Calls for peace and negotiations between Moscow and kyiv should be supported by a unilateral ceasefire,” Turkey’s head of state told Vladimir Putin in a telephone interview, according to a statement released. by the Turkish Presidency.
Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who is also due to meet the Ukrainian president on Thursday Volodymyr Zelenskyhas been following a line since the beginning of the conflict that has allowed it to maintain good relations with Russian President Vladimir Putin, while supplying arms to kyiv.
The main information to remember:
- Putin orders a ceasefire in Ukraine on January 6-7
- New death toll from Ukrainian New Year attack on Russian-occupied Makivka reportedly rises to 400 dead, 300 wounded
- John Kirby, spokesman for the US National Security Council, reiterated his support for Ukraine, referring to Makiivka as a “legitimate target”
- Strong criticism mounts in Russia, castigating the Russian military command and its “incompetence”
Vladimir Putin orders a ceasefire on January 6-7
Russian President Vladimir Putin on Thursday ordered his army to observe a ceasefire in Ukraine over Orthodox Christmas on January 6-7, the first major truce since the invasion began there. almost a year ago, which kyiv for its part described as “hypocrisy”. This announcement comes after a call to this effect from the Russian Orthodox Patriarch Kirill, but also a proposal from the Turkish head of state Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who telephoned Mr. Putin in the morning.
“In view of the appeal of His Holiness Patriarch Kirill, I instruct the Russian Minister of Defense to introduce a ceasefire regime along the entire line of contact between the parties in Ukraine from 12:00 p.m. on 6 January of this year until midnight on January 7,” the Russian president said in a Kremlin statement. He also called on the Ukrainian forces to respect this truce in order to give the possibility to the Orthodox, the majority confession in Ukraine as in Russia, to “attend services on Christmas Eve, as well as on the day of the Nativity of Christ”. .
Russian Orthodox Church Patriarch Kirill called for a ceasefire earlier in the day so that “the Orthodox can attend services on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day” in Ukraine.
This ceasefire is the first truce of a general nature since the beginning of the war, only local agreements having been concluded so far, such as for the evacuation of civilians from the Azovstal factory in Mariupol (south-east ) in April. “Russia must leave the occupied territories, only then will there be a ‘temporary truce’. Keep your hypocrisy”, reacted on Twitter the adviser to the Ukrainian presidency Mykhailo Podoliak.
Erdogan had proposed a ceasefire earlier in the day
In his telephone conversation with Vladimir Putin, Mr. Erdogan had meanwhile proposed a “unilateral ceasefire” intended to support “calls for peace and negotiations between Moscow and kyiv”. The Turkish president, who is mediating in the conflict, also spoke Thursday with his Ukrainian counterpart Volodymyr Zelensky without however mentioning a request for a “unilateral ceasefire”. Mr. Putin had initially replied that Russia was ready for a “serious dialogue” with Ukraine on condition that the latter comply with Russian demands and accept the “new territorial realities” born of the invasion of this country in February.
Moscow claimed in September the annexation of four regions occupied at least partially by its army in Ukraine, despite a series of military setbacks on the ground, on the pattern of that of the Ukrainian peninsula of Crimea in March 2014. Volodymyr Zelensky insists on a total withdrawal of Russian forces from his country, Crimea included, before any dialogue with Moscow. Otherwise, he promises to take back the occupied territories by force.
During his discussions with Mr. Erdogan, Mr. Putin also once again denounced the “destructive role of Western countries” in the conflict because of their arms deliveries, crucial for the Ukrainian 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”.
A member of NATO, Turkey has not associated itself with the sanctions against Russia and is trying to maintain a position of mediator between kyiv and Moscow. It thus played 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 one that remained loyal to Moscow severed ties with Russia in May. because of the invasion.
International reactions to the ceasefire
German diplomacy estimated Thursday that the “so-called” Russian ceasefire in Ukraine on the occasion of Orthodox Christmas will bring “neither freedom nor security to people who live in daily fear under Russian occupation”. “If Putin wanted peace, he would bring his soldiers home and the war would be over. But apparently he wants to continue the war, after a brief hiatus,” Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock said in a Twitter post.
On the side of the United States, Joe Biden estimated Thursday that Vladimir Putin was seeking “to give himself some air” by announcing a ceasefire in Ukraine on the occasion of Orthodox Christmas, the first major truce since the start of the Russian invasion. The Russian president “was ready to bomb hospitals, nurseries and churches (…) on December 25 and on New Year’s (…) I think he is trying to give himself some air”, said Joe Biden during of a speech at the White House.
Critics rain in Russia after the deadly Makiivka strike
Critics are mounting in Russia after the New Year’s Eve strike against Russian soldiers in Makiivka, eastern Ukraine, whose death toll is 89 according to Moscow which questioned the use of mobile phones by the military. The Ukrainian general staff confirmed having carried out this strike and the strategic communications department of the Ukrainian army claimed a much heavier toll in the Russian ranks, amounting to 400 dead and 300 wounded. This assertion, however, has not been confirmed by the staff.
“A legitimate target” according to the United States
The United States has not commented on these figures either. But John Kirby, spokesman for the US National Security Council, said there is “no lamentation from the (US) administration. This is war. (Ukrainians) have been invaded and they fight back and defend 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 after the discovery of new bodies in the ruins of the building in Makiïvka, targeted by a Ukrainian strike on January 1 at midnight, said Russian General Sergei Sevrioukov in a video message broadcast by his ministry.
A geolocated attack
According to him, the “main cause” of the strike is “the massive use by personnel of mobile phones” despite the ban on doing so, which allowed the Ukrainian forces to geolocate this concentration of Russian soldiers. Sergei Sevrioukov assured that “the necessary measures are taken to avoid such tragic events in the future” and that “those responsible will be held to account”.
It is the heaviest toll in a single attack admitted by Moscow since the start of the offensive in February, which comes after a series of embarrassing military setbacks on the ground. According to the Russian media, the victims were mobilized, therefore non-professional soldiers.
In Russia, the announcement of the heavier toll did not fail to arouse new criticism of the military command, already castigated Monday and Tuesday for its “incompetence” by correspondents and commentators. The boss of the RT channel, the spearhead of the Kremlin’s propaganda internationally, Margarita Simonian, called for the names of the Russian officers involved to be published and to take “the measure of their responsibility”.
“It is time to understand that impunity does not lead to social harmony. Impunity leads to new crimes. And, therefore, to public dissent,” she wrote on Telegram.
Russian soldiers praised for their “heroism”
Pro-Russian separatist leader Denis Pushilin praised the “heroism” of the soldiers who survived the Ukrainian strike, who “risked their lives” by going to “rescue their comrades” under the rubble. According to him, the deputy commander of the regiment was killed.
In a message posted on Telegram late Wednesday, he said he visited the injured with Viktor Goremykin, Russian Deputy Defense Minister, and Dmitry Azarov, governor of the Samara region from where some of the victims are from. . Almost all the injured were transferred to other regions of Russia to receive medical treatment there, Denis Pushilin said.
Negligence in the Russian army?
Many Russians demanded, 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 is not cellphones and their owners that are to blame, but the banal negligence of commanders, who I’m sure didn’t even try to relocate staff’ out of the building, the group blasted. “Notes from a veteran” on Telegram, which has 200,000 subscribers. According to the Russian army, this attack was carried out using Himars missile systems, a weapon supplied by the United States to Ukraine, which makes it possible to strike far behind enemy lines.
“We are providing and we will continue to provide (the Ukrainians) the equipment and the help they need to defend themselves. And yes, we have provided Himars and we could very well provide more in the future,” warned John Kirby, spokesman for the US National Security Council.
During a telephone interview, French President Emmanuel Macron for his part announced to his Ukrainian counterpart Volodymyr Zelensky that France would deliver French-made “light combat tanks” to Ukraine, according to the Elysée. On Twitter, Volodymyr Zelensky thanked France for this new aid. The number of tanks and delivery times were not specified.