Eastern Europe monitoring team : Séverine Ly, Matisse Grenier, Olga Chekhurska, Sarah Wilpotte, Olivier Husson
6-7/01/2023: Russia’s unilateral ceasefire during Orthodox Christmas -Séverine Ly-
On 5 January, according to an official Kremlin statement, Vladimir Putin unilaterally ordered a 36-hour ceasefire “along the entire line of contact between the parties in Ukraine“, from 6 January 12 am to 7 January 12 pm. This announcement was made following an appeal from the Russian Orthodox Church and in particular from its Patriarch Kirill because of the Orthodox Christmas. The Russian President asked his Ukrainian counterpart to agree to this decision.
In his daily address of 5 January, President Volodymyr Zelenskyy replied that on 12 December Russia had been offered a “Peace Formula” including “the withdrawal of Russian troops just on Christmas Day“, which had not been answered. He believes that this ceasefire is only a way for the Kremlin to “briefly stop the advance” of the Ukrainians in the Donbass and to bring “equipment, ammunition and mobilised men closer” to Ukrainian positions. The Ukrainian Foreign Minister, Dmytro Kuleba, denounced on Twitter the lack of confidence in the Russian army, recalling that it had massively bombed the country during the New Year and that its commitment “cannot and should not be taken seriously“.
In the official reports of the Russian and Ukrainian Ministries of Defence on 6, 7 and 8 January on Telegram, information is contradictory. While the Kremlin claimed that the ceasefire had been respected along the front line and that its army waited until midnight on 7 January to resume fighting, Kiev counted “9 missile strikes, 3 air strikes and 40 attacks from multiple rocket launchers” hitting civilian and military infrastructure during the day of 7 January.