Russian President Vladimir Putin has ordered his country's forces to observe a ceasefire in Ukraine. But it remains unclear whether the truce will hold as pro-Russian forces in Ukraine indicated there would be counterattacks against Ukrainian "provocations."
Putin gave the order on Thursday for a 36-hour ceasefire starting Friday to mark Russian Orthodox Christmas.
But Denis Pushilin, a pro-Russian leader in the eastern Ukrainian region of Donetsk, warned of the possibility of continued fighting. He said on social media that the ceasefire order "does not mean that we will not respond to provocations from the enemy." He suggested that pro-Russian forces would not allow Ukrainian troops to "improve their positions on the line of contact."
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy criticized Putin's call for ceasefire in a video address on Thursday. He said Russia wanted to use the truce "to at least briefly stop the advance of our guys in Donbas and bring equipment, ammunition and mobilized men closer to our positions."
Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba was also skeptical. He posted on social media that Russia has been launching mass missile and drone strikes at the start of the year. He said, "Their current 'unilateral ceasefire' cannot and should not be taken seriously."