WASHINGTON: United States Department Spokesperson Ned Price, on Thursday, called the order of ceasefire in Ukraine by Russian President Vladimir Putin "cynical" and said that if Moscow wanted to end the war then it would withdraw its forces from Ukraine's territory.
Notably, Putin ordered Russian defence minister Sergei Shoigu to introduce a 36-hour ceasefire along the entire line of contact between the warring sides in Ukraine from January 6-7, the Kremlin said on Thursday.
While reacting to Putin's order of ceasefire, Price said, "From our perspective, there is one word that best describes that, and it's 'cynical.' It's 'cynical' in large part because it comes just days after Moscow perpetrated these New Year's Day attacks on Ukraine's civilian infrastructure, and its civilian centres, following repeated days of attacks against similar targets.
And I hesitate to even call them targets because, again, these are civilian centres in many cases." "So as you can tell, we have little faith in the intentions behind this announcement. Our concern - it's a concern that you heard from Secretary Blinken in his end-of-year press conference a couple of weeks ago - is that the Russians would seek to use any temporary pause in fighting to rest, to refit, to regroup, and ultimately to reattack," he added.
Price also said that if Russia is serious about peace and ending the war then it would have removed its army from the Ukraine territory. While responding to a query about the concerns regarding propaganda that would benefit Putin, Price admitted the impact and said that the Russian President would seek to fool the world, divide public opinion and induce the rest of the world into thinking that perhaps there's a reason to give them a shred of doubt.
"It is, of course, possible that in addition to the practical impact of this - the ability of its forces to refit, to regroup, to rest, and ultimately to reattack - that President Putin seeks to fool the world, to fool the world in a new and different way, that he seeks to divide public opinion, to perhaps induce the rest of the world into thinking that perhaps there's a reason to give them a shred of doubt.
But there is not," Price said. "When we've seen previously announced ceasefires in the past, of course, especially in the early days of this war, we heard these announcements. They were heralded by the Kremlin. They were followed by brutal strikes in places like Mariupol against fleeing civilians," he added.
He also said that Putin's orders appear to be a bid to continue to do what it has inflicted upon the Ukrainian people for nearly a year now, as it seeks to rest, refit, regroup, and ultimately reattack. Talking about any chances of negotiation from the Russian side, Price said "no".
Recalling President Joe Biden's statement on Putin's order, Price said that the US believes it is a cynical ploy so that the Russians can use a bit of time - whether it is a couple of days, or however long it ends up being - to rest, to refit, to regroup, and ultimately to reattack, to reattack with potentially even more vengeance, even more brutality, even more, lethality if they had their way.
Russian President Vladimir Putin on Wednesday announced that the ceasefire will allow Orthodox Christians to attend services in Church on Christmas, according to the statement released by Kremlin on its website. Putin said that the decision was taken after Patriarch Kirill called for a temporary ceasefire in Ukraine.
"Taking into account the appeal of His Holiness Patriarch Kirill, I instruct the Minister of Defense of the Russian Federation to introduce from 12:00 January 6, 2023, until 24:00 January 7, 2023, a ceasefire along the entire line of contact between the parties in Ukraine," the statement released on the Kremlin website said. "
Based on the fact that a large number of citizens professing Orthodoxy live in the combat areas, we call on the Ukrainian side to declare a ceasefire and give them the opportunity to attend services on Christmas Eve, as well as on the Day of the Nativity of Christ," it added.