Day 317: Frontline Situation Unclear After Russia Declares Ceasefire

As Russians and many Ukrainians begin to celebrate their Christmas Eve on Friday, the situation on the frontlines remains uncertain after Russian Pres. Putin declared a unilateral ceasefire that lasts 36 hours from midday Moscow time to midnight the following day.

Day 317: Frontline Situation Unclear After Russia Declares Ceasefire
Image credit: AP Photos [via AP News]

Facts

  • As Russians and many Ukrainians begin to celebrate their Christmas Eve on Friday, the situation on the frontlines remains uncertain after Russian Pres. Putin declared a unilateral ceasefire that lasts 36 hours from midday Moscow time to midnight the following day.
  • Putin's declaration came after Russia's leader of its Orthodox church, Patriarch Kirill, urged participants of the conflict to declare a ceasefire — allowing followers of the Eastern Orthodox faith to celebrate and worship on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. However, Putin's announcement was widely dismissed by Ukrainian, European, and US politicians.
  • Ukrainian Pres. Zelenskyy accused Russia of ignoring what he characterized as two previous "Peace Formulas" presented to Moscow that could've led to a cessation of hostilities. He further alleged the proposed ceasefire was a ploy to improve the position of Russian troops.
  • Zelenskyy said: "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 mobilized men closer to our positions. What will this bring? Just another increase in the death toll."
  • Meanwhile, US Pres. Joe Biden said: "[Putin] was willing to bomb hospitals and nurseries and churches … on the 25th and New Year’s. I mean, I think he’s trying to find some oxygen."
  • Hours before the ceasefire was set to start, Russian shelling was reported in Kramatorsk in Donetsk, as well as in Kherson, killing one civilian and injuring four others. Ukrainian officials said that, over the past day, six civilians were killed and four were injured in Kherson, two people were killed and three were injured in Zaporizhzhia, while one was killed and three were injured in Donetsk and one person was injured in Kharkiv.
  • Meanwhile, Ukrainian shelling of Donetsk was reported on three occasions before the proposed ceasefire — Pro-Russia officials also alleged that Ukraine has continued to shell Russian positions in Donetsk, Luhansk, and Zaporizhzhia after the ceasefire was supposed to go into effect. However, initial reports of the attacks could not be independently confirmed.

Sources: Gazette, Tass, President, Ukrinform, and Pravda.

Narratives

  • Anti-Russia narrative, as provided by Newsweek. Putin's hastily announced ceasefire is part of an information war aimed at discrediting Ukrainians. Ukraine could not be reasonably expected to suddenly meet its terms and Putin wants to leverage this to make Ukrainians seem unwilling to cooperate.
  • Pro-Russia narrative, as provided by Tass. A hand of Christian mercy was offered to Ukrainians, but this was swiped away. This helps Russians to know who they're dealing with and ensures that future opportunities for deception don't creep in.

Predictions