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Zelensky: Moscow seeks to use ‘Christmas ceasefire’ as cover to stop Ukrainian army

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has slammed his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin’s order to declare a ceasefire in Ukraine for Orthodox Christmas.

“There’s something that I want to remind Russian citizens about. The Ukrainian peace formula was presented on 15 November. One of its points envisions a full withdrawal of Russian occupation forces from our country. This is a guaranteed and reliable way to prevent fire, human losses, and the war in general,” the Ukrainian leader said in his daily evening address.

According to him, Russia now wants to use Orthodox Christmas (celebrated on 7 January — translator’s note) as “a cover” to temporarily slow down Ukraine’s advances in Donbas and “bring closer hardware, ammo, and draftees” to the frontlines.

“Everyone in the world knows how the Kremlin uses a break in the war to continue fighting with renewed energy,” Zelensky noted.

Head of the so-called Donetsk people’s republic Denis Pushilin, meanwhile, said that the “Christmas ceasefire” declared by Putin does not apply to retaliatory fire.

“The decision of our president as an Orthodox Christian person is about the Orthodox people who see it important to go to church for a service for Christmas. The leadership of the remaining part of Ukraine we do not see as Orthodox Christian for obvious reasons,” Pushilin noted.

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On 5 December, Putin instructed to introduce a 36-hour ceasefire in Ukraine between 12 PM on 6 January and 12 AM on 7 January and called on Kyiv to do the same “to give religious people an opportunity to attend services on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day”.

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