Kyiv officials dismissed the move as a ploy but didn't clarify whether Ukrainian troops would follow suit on the 36-hour cease-fire which began at noon Friday.
The impact of Russian President Vladimir Putin’s order for his forces in Ukraine to observe a unilateral, 36-hour cease-fire was in doubt Friday after Kyiv officials dismissed the move as a ploy but didn’t clarify whether Ukrainian troops would follow suit.
Moscow also didn’t say whether it would hit back if Ukraine kept fighting.
The Russian-declared truce in the nearly 11-month war began at noon Friday and was to continue through midnight Saturday Moscow time (0900 GMT Friday to 2100 GMT Saturday; 4 a.m. EST Friday to 4 p.m. EST Saturday). There were no immediate reports of it being broken.
Air raid sirens sounded in Kyiv about 40 minutes after the Russian cease-fire was to come into effect, but no explosions were heard. A widely-used Alerts in Ukraine app, which includes information from emergency services, showed sirens blaring all across the country.
Putin’s announcement Thursday that the Kremlin’s troops would stop fighting along the 1,100-kilometer (684-mile) front line or elsewhere was unexpected. It came after the Russian Orthodox Church head, Patriarch Kirill, proposed a cease-fire for this weekend’s Orthodox Christmas holiday. The Orthodox Church, which uses the Julian calendar, celebrates Christmas on Jan. 7.
But Ukrainian and Western officials suspected an ulterior motive in Putin’s apparent goodwill gesture.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy questioned the Kremlin’s intentions, accusing the Kremlin of planning the fighting pause “to continue the war with renewed vigor.”
“Now they want to use Christmas as a cover to stop the advance of our guys in the (eastern) Donbas (region) for a while and bring equipment, ammunition and mobilized people closer to our positions,” Zelenskyy said late Thursday.