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Kiev Rejected Russia’s Orthodox Christmas Truce On False Pretexts
While there’s no doubt that both sides could benefit from a temporary lull in fighting that enables them each to resupply their forces even more during that narrow window, it’s not a game-changer either way since a day and a half doesn’t make any military difference. With this in mind, the question therefore becomes why Kiev didn’t decide to take this mutually beneficial opportunity.
President Putin declared a unilateral 36-hour truce for Orthodox Christmas from 12pm Moscow time on Friday until midnight on Saturday, yet this was rejected by Kiev on false pretexts. Zelensky claimed that his counterpart just wanted time to resupply, while his Foreign Minister also expressed similar sentiment speculating that the Russian leader was insincere. For his part, Biden added that President Putin was “trying to find some oxygen”, but all these excuses don’t make any sense.
It's extremely unlikely that Russia really thought that Ukraine would agree to its unilateral 36-hour truce, meaning that Moscow probably didn’t expect that it would be able to resupply its forces during that narrow window without interruption if that truly was its motivation all along. Not only that, but even in the event that Kiev went along with this to deflect from its crusade against elements of its Orthodox Christian population, 36 hours isn’t long enough to make a military difference for either side.
The notion that Russia’s special operation is supposedly failing so badly that the Kremlin desperately needs a day-and-a-half-long lull in fighting to resupply its forces in order to stave off their allegedly imminent defeat contradicts the US-led Western Mainstream Media’s (MSM) “official narrative”. According to them, President Putin is obsessed with the Battle for Artyomovsk/Bakhmut for reasons related purely to his personal prestige and that of his country.
The reality is that control of this city is tactically crucial for both sides, hence why they’ve redoubled their respective efforts along that front. In any case, whether one acknowledges the aforementioned objective military reality or ascribes to the MSM’s “official narrative”, the outcome of President Putin regarding this battle as “too big to lose” (at least for the time being) is the same. That in turn extends credence to the assessment that he already ordered his forces to be regularly resupplied long ago.
Thus, it’s unimportant whether Kiev agreed to the unilateral 36-hour truce or not since the Russian Armed Forces continue being supplied no matter what, including during the most intense firefights along this front over the past weeks. While there’s no doubt that both sides could benefit from a temporary lull in fighting that enables them each to resupply their forces even more during that narrow window, it’s not a game-changer either way since a day and a half doesn’t make any military difference.
With this in mind, the question therefore becomes why Kiev didn’t decide to take this mutually beneficial opportunity. The answer is most likely political for two reasons: first, agreeing to a Russian-initiated truce could be interpreted as signaling weakness and thus prompting speculation that Ukraine might agree to tacitly recognize the loss of its four peripheral reasons; and second, keeping the military pressure on Russia during Orthodox Christmas is part and parcel of its crusade against that religion.
Altogether, it can be concluded that that this was a missed opportunity for both sides, but one that Kiev decided to do without since its political motivations overrode its military ones. That being the case, this insight can be extrapolated upon to predict that fighting will continue for the foreseeable future without any credible chance of a lasting ceasefire anytime soon. The only variable that could offset this scenario is if one side achieves a major breakthrough along the Line of Control, but that seems unlikely for now.