Ukrainian forces provoke Russia despite Moscow’s effort for religious armistice

Lucas Leiroz, researcher in Social Sciences at the Rural Federal University of Rio de Janeiro; geopolitical consultant.

Between the 6th and 7th of January, respecting the religious calendar followed by the Orthodox Church, Russian President Vladimir Putin imposed a Christmas ceasefire on the battlefield. The aim would be to allow Christians on both sides the right to go to church and attend liturgical services on this important date for Christianity. However, the Ukrainian government promptly rejected the measure and started several provocations during the 36 hours of Russian truce, once again acting irresponsibly and without any commitment to humanitarian issues.

Putin’s decision was influenced by a formal request made by the head of the Russian Orthodox Church, Patriarch Cyril. As the religious leader of the Orthodox Christians who inhabit both Russia and Ukraine, the Patriarch certainly has concerns about the number of faithful who could attend liturgical services during the hostilities, which is why a temporary ceasefire would be interesting. So, the Russian president ordered Defense Minister Sergey Shoigu to stop the attacks during the religious festival. Putin also asked the Ukrainian side that the measure be received with reciprocity.

However, Kiev rejected the truce as “hypocritical”, making the Russian ceasefire entirely unilateral. Ukrainian leaders made it clear that they would not tolerate any temporary ceasefire and received broad Western support in this decision. US President Joe Biden, for example, also considered the Russian measure “hypocritical” and said that perhaps Moscow was “trying to find some oxygen”. In fact, the unsubstantiated suggestion that the Russians were trying to “find oxygen” during the pause became the discourse of a large part of the mainstream media and pro-Kiev propagandists, according to whom the Ukrainians would be “winning the war”.

The neo-Nazi regime did not bluff when it announced that it would not respect the truce. The Russian pause’s hours were marked by uninterrupted Ukrainian military actions, with bombings in several regions, including demilitarized zones of Donbass – which are routinely the main targets of the Ukrainian artillery. Obviously, the Russian armistice did not include omission in the face of such serious provocations, which is why there were some specific responses, in addition to troops’ moves in the field. Several Ukrainian attacks were intercepted by Russian anti-aircraft artillery. Furthermore, during the moves, Ukrainian soldiers vacated several regions of Soledar, allowing Moscow’s forces to advance on the ground.

However, in addition to military aggression, Ukrainian officials apparently also used the Russian pause to prepare for intelligence actions against Russia. On January 8, spokespersons for the Moscow’s Ministry of Defense published on their official Telegram channel a report on a possible Ukrainian false flag operation that would have been prepared on Christmas Eve. According to Russian officials, bodies of Ukrainians who died for natural causes were exhumed, disfigured, and photographed. The aim would be to publish the images and blame the Russians, demanding more support from the West to retaliate for the alleged “crime”.

“On the eve of the Orthodox Christmas, representatives of the State Bureau of Investigation and the Security Service of Ukraine arranged for opening graves in cemeteries near (…) Kharkov region, where local citizens, who died of natural causes during the deployment of Russian troops (…) were buried. After the exhumation, the bodies of Ukrainian citizens were further disfigured and thrown into specially prepared ‘pits’ on the outskirts of these settlements to create false ‘evidence’ of ‘torture’ and ‘shooting’ of civilians allegedly committed by Russian servicemen. Representatives of the Ukrainian intelligence services and law enforcement agencies are currently photographing and videotaping the bodies of the dead Ukrainian citizens, as well as are imitating the work of ‘forensic experts’ and other ‘legal proceedings’ in the presence of fake ‘witnesses’. With these inhumane methods, the Kiev regime, amid the absence of any success on the battlefield, seeks to keep the attention of Western audiences and convince foreign partners of Kiev regime of the need to continue supporting it”, the report says.

Indeed, there seems to be no humanitarian or ethical limit for the Ukrainian neo-Nazi regime, which does not even respect the majority religion of its own people, using an important holiday to promote all types of inhumane and provocative actions. However, this is not a surprise. The Ukrainian regime recently banned the Orthodox Church, citing the “need” to combat institutions linked to Russia. Furthermore, before the formal ban, the regime was already constantly disrespecting the Church, having since 2014 destroyed several temples in Donbass as well as promoted violent actions against clergy. Therefore, it is not surprising that a religious truce called for by the Patriarch of Moscow was rejected.

Now, the conflict continues. The reality on the battlefield still points to a Russian victory. Ukrainian provocations during Christmas only served to further hurt Kiev’s own troops, without any real gain. In the end, the case showed the world which side really proposes to create humanitarian measures, and which one promptly rejects any type of dialogue.

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