Russia rejects ceasefire for evacuation of civilians during Eastern Orthodox Holy Week
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Russia has rejected a temporary ceasefire in Ukraine requested by the UN secretary-general for the purpose of evacuating civilians during the Eastern Orthodox holy week before Easter. Russia’s deputy ambassador to the UN said the ceasefire request was insincere and would only give time to arm Ukrainian soldiers.
Dmitry Polyanskiy, the deputy ambassador, told the Security Council on Tuesday that the ceasefire demands were “not sincere and, in practice, they only indicate an aspiration to give to the Kyiv nationalists a respite to regroup and receive more drones, more anti-tank missiles and more MANPADS,” The New York Times reported. “MANPADS” refers to man-portable air defense systems, smaller and more portable surface-to-air missiles.
As Russia rejects a ceasefire, Ukrainian Deputy Prime Minister Iryna Vereshchuk announcement early Wednesday that Ukraine had reached an agreement with Russia on a humanitarian corridor to evacuate women, children and the elderly from Mariupol from 2 p.m. It remains unclear whether the corridor will be maintained, as such measures have often failed, with each side blaming the other.
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UN Secretary-General António Guterres has called for a 4-day ceasefire to allow evacuations from combat zones and safe corridors to deliver food and medicine.
Civilians, including children, remain trapped in the eastern region of Donbass, where Russian forces have launched a fierce new offensive, and in the devastated port city of Mariupol. Guterres said earlier Tuesday that more than 12 million people in Ukraine needed humanitarian aid. He predicted that number would rise to 15.7 million, or about 40 percent of all Ukrainians remaining in the country.
Even China, which did not condemn Russia and abstained in votes on resolutions against the aggressor country, said it supported a humanitarian ceasefire.
Russia, as a permanent member of the Security Council, twice used its right to veto Ukraine-focused resolutions after the invasion began in February.
Russia’s rejection also comes after the head of the World Council of Churches contacted Patriarch Kirill of Moscow, urging him to use his religious authority as head of the Russian Orthodox Church to call for a ceasefire. fire as Orthodox Christians celebrate Easter this weekend.
“Our humble request to Your Holiness in this particular and impossible situation is to intervene and publicly request a ceasefire for at least a few hours during the Resurrection service,” said Reverend Ioan Sauca, Romanian Orthodox priest. and Acting Secretary General of Le Monde. Council of Churches, wrote in a letter published Tuesday.
Sauca requested this move in order “to give terrified soldiers and civilians a chance to embrace and greet each other with the Paschal salute, to silence the bombs and missiles for a moment and instead hear the triumphant sound of the church bells and the joyous signature of the faithful people May such a short ceasefire be a foretaste and proof that a lasting peace can be achieved.
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Sauca noted that “the Orthodox Catholic and Greek Catholic faithful in Ukraine, Russia and around the world are preparing to celebrate at the end of this week the most important holiday of the year, Resurrection Day.” The priest also noted that the fighting in World War I “stopped for a moment so that the soldiers could share the greeting of the Resurrection among themselves.”