Putin’s ceasefire a ‘step towards defeat’, says Russian commander

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Volodymyr Zelensky thanks Americans in speech to US Congress

Vladimir Putin has been accused of taking a “bold and decisive step towards defeat” by calling for soldiers to practise a ceasefire for 36 hours from 10am (GMT) today, a plea that has been emphatically rejected by Ukraine. Igor Girkin, a hugely influential military blogger and Russian commander, who recently spent a month on the frontline in the east, accused Putin of initiating the “capitulation of the current war”.

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  • Ukrainian President rejects Putin’s calls for a 36-hour ceasefire 07:50
  • Russian commander slams Putin’s ceasefire as a ‘step towards defeat’

    Russian military blogger and former army commander Igor Girkin has accused Vladimir Putin of making “bold and decisive steps towards defeat” by requesting Ukraine join them in a 36-hour ceasefire to honour Orthodox Christmas on January 7. 

    The former commander, who recently fought in Ukraine for one month, wrote on Twitter: “Vladimir Vladimirovich took such a bold and decisive step towards defeat and capitulation in the current war…The Hague applauds and begins to prepare a chamber.”

    He added: “The armed forces of the Russian Federation are simply delighted…I think our military will like it.”

    Experts have suggested that Putin’s announcement could have been made as an attempt to show the Russian public, when Ukraine inevitably rejected the call to hold fire, that they had the supposed moral high ground. 

    While it is hard to gauge the public mood among Russians towards the war in Ukraine due to the difficulties associated with dissent in the Federation, increased criticism from bloggers on Telegram, which has attracted the attention of millions of citizens, suggests there may be growing opposition. 

    Igor Girkin, alone, has 780,000 subscribers to his Telegram channel.

    Militias from eastern Ukraine formally integrated into Russian army

    Paramilitary, pro-Russian groups fighting in the eastern Ukrainian regions of Luhansk and Donetsk have been officially welcomed into Putin’s Armed Forces, the British Ministry of Defence reported. 

    Russia’s commitment to the Luhansk People’s Republic (LNR) and Donetsk People’s Republic (DNR) will now last “well beyond the current phase of the conflict”, the MoD said. 

    President Putin reportedly presented the formations with their battle colours during a visit to Rostov-on-Don. 

    The British MoD said in its daily update: “Russia claims the LNR and DNR are intrinsic parts of the Russian Federation following the fixed accession referendums of September 2022.

    “However, it has discreetly controlled both since 2014, creating DNR’s 1st Army Corps and LNR’s 2nd Army Corps and supporting them with Russian military officers.

    “The status and identities of the DNR and LNR likely remain divisive within the Russian system. Even before the February 2022 invasion, these territories represented a significant drain on Russian finances.

    “Now the Kremlin has overtly committed to supporting them, they will likely constitute a large political, diplomatic and financial cost for Russia which will last well beyond the current phase of the conflict.”

    Ceasefire ‘will do nothing for peace’, claims UK foreign minister

    UK foreign secretary James Cleverly has said Vladimir Putin’s calls for a 36-hour ceasefire “will do nothing” to help broker peace longer term in Ukraine. 

    Speaking on Twitter, he called on Russia to “permanently withdraw its forces”, lending his full support to the people of Ukraine. 

    He said: “A 36 hour pause of Russian attacks will do nothing to advance the prospects for peace. 

    “Russia must permanently withdraw its forces, relinquish its illegal control of Ukrainian territory and end its barbaric attacks against innocent civilians.”

    US calls Putin’s ceasefire proposal ‘cynical’

    Russia’s attempts to halt the frontline fighting in Ukraine for 36 hours under the guise of honouring Orthodox Christian Christmas on January 7 are “cynical” at best, a spokesman for the US state department has said. 

    Ned Price, a representative of the state department, dismissed Putin’s announcement, saying they had “little faith” in its apparent concern for the wellbeing of those on the frontline. 

    His comments followed US President Joe Biden’s rejection of the authenticity of the ceasefire. Mr Biden accused Putin of “trying to find some oxygen” while his forces were struggling to retain territory in Ukraine. 

    Mr Biden added: “I found in interesting, [Putin] was ready to bomb hospitals and nurseries and churches on the 25th and New Year’s.”  

    Mr Price echoed the sentiment of Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky in his state department brief, telling reporters: “We have little faith in the intentions behind this announcement. I think we know better than to take anything we see or hear from Russia at face value.” 

    He added that Russia would likely use the pause in fighting “to rest, to refit, to regroup and ultimately to re-attack”.

    Ukrainian President rejects Putin’s calls for a 36-hour ceasefire

    Volodymyr Zelensky has emphatically rejected Putin’s calls for a 36-hour Christmas ceasefire, which would have been effective from midday today (10am GMT). 

    He accused the Kremlin of using the break to “continue the war with renewed vigour” by repositioning troops closer to vital points on the frontline and replenishing dwindling munitions stockpiles. 

    Pointedly speaking in Russian, Mr Zelensky added that a ceasefire could only happen when Putin “ended your country’s aggression … when your soldiers leave or we throw them out”. 

    He said: “Those who continued the terror against our country and sent all those people of yours to the slaughter, rejecting our offers to stop the Russian aggression, certainly do not value life and definitely do not seek peace.

    “Now they want to use Christmas as a cover to at least briefly stop the advance of our guys in Donbas and bring equipment, ammunition and mobilised men closer to our positions. What will this bring? Just another increase in the death toll.

    “Everyone in the world knows how the Kremlin uses respites at war to continue the war with renewed vigour. 

    “You don’t give Ukrainians any respite. People are tortured, electrocuted, raped. This continues every day while your soldiers are on our soil.”

     You can read the nightly address in full here

    Good morning

    Good morning from London. I’m Tom Watling, I’ll be bringing you all the latest developments on the war in Ukraine. Please feel free to get in touch with me as I work if you have a story or tips to share! Your thoughts are always welcome.

    Email: [email protected]

    Twitter: @TomAWatling

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