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Russian President Vladimir Putin called for a temporary ceasefire in Ukraine to observe Orthodox Christmas on January 6-7.
The Eastern Orthodox Church celebrates Christmas on the later date to mark the birth of Jesus Christ based on the Julian calendar, which predates the Gregorian calendar used in Catholic and Protestant traditions. About 100 million people are considered members of the Russian Orthodox Church, which has clashed with broader Eastern Orthodox authorities in recent days.
Patriarch Kirill of Moscow, top of the Russian Orthodox Church, called for Russians and Ukrainians to observe a Christmas truce prior to the Kremlin’s announcement.
“Given the appeal of His Holiness Patriarch Kirill, I instruct the Minister of Defense of the Russian Federation to introduce a ceasefire regime along the entire line of contact between the parties in Ukraine from 12:00 on January 6 to 24:00 on January 7,” a statement from Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu read, according to Russian media outlet RIA.
The announcement follows calls from Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan for a unilateral ceasefire in the Russian invasion of Ukraine. Erdogan reportedly held separate phone calls on Thursday with both Putin and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky.
Zelensky mentioned the call with Erdogan on Twitter, calling for “no invaders” in Ukraine.
“Spoke with [Turkish] President @RTErdogan. Discussed security cooperation, in particular ZNPP, there should be no invaders there, the exchange of prisoners of war, the grain agreement development. Glad to hear that [Turkey] is ready to participate in the implementation of our #PeaceFormula,” he tweeted.
Spoke with 🇹🇷 President @RTErdogan. Discussed security cooperation, in particular ZNPP, there should be no invaders there, the exchange of prisoners of war, the grain agreement development. Glad to hear that 🇹🇷 is ready to participate in the implementation of our #PeaceFormula.
— Володимир Зеленський (@ZelenskyyUa) January 5, 2023
Russia also acknowledged a Thursday phone call between Erdogan and Putin. The Kremlin stated that Putin “acknowledged the destructive role of the West, pumping weapons into Kyiv, providing information and guidance.” Russia’s president claimed he is ready for dialogue but argued that Ukraine must acknowledge “new territorial realities,” according to France 24.
The temporary Christmas ceasefire comes after more than 10 months since Putin’s military forces invaded Ukraine on February 24. More than 7.9 million refugees have since been displaced across Europe, according to data from the United Nations.
The number includes 2.8 million Ukrainians displaced within Russia. Poland is the nation that has received the second-largest number of refugees, with more than 1.5 million recorded as of January 3.
No verified numbers exist of the number of deaths in Ukraine and Russia since the start of Putin’s invasion. In November, U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Gen. Mark Milley estimated that 240,000 people had died in the conflict.
The unverified total included an estimated 100,000 Russian soldiers, 100,000 Ukrainian soldiers, and 40,000 civilians, the BBC reported.