In view of the upcoming Orthodox Christmas, Russian President Vladimir Putin has ordered a one-and-a-half day ceasefire in Ukraine. Putin instructed the Russian Defense Ministry to cease hostilities in the neighboring country from Friday noon (local time/10:00 a.m.CET) to Saturday evening 24:00 (local time/10:00 p.m.CET), according to a Kremlin statement on Thursday. This decision was made on the basis of an appeal by Patriarch Kirill, it said.
The influential head of the Russian Orthodox Church had previously called for a ceasefire in Ukraine during the Orthodox Christmas celebrations so that believers could attend mass. The Eastern Churches celebrate Christmas on January 7 according to the Julian calendar.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan also called for a "unilateral ceasefire" in a telephone call with Putin on Thursday, although the statement by the Turkish President's Office did not make it clear that he was addressing the Russian side.
According to the Kremlin statement, Putin also called on the Ukrainian side to follow the Russian example and also to stop firing over Christmas. Kyiv, however, had already rejected such a ceasefire after Kirill called it a "cynical trap".