Russian President Putin vows support to soldiers ‘with arms in hands’, omits call for Ukraine ceasefire on Orthodox Christmas



NEW DELHI: In a late-night meeting on the eve of Orthodox Christmas, Russian President Vladimir Putin expressed his unwavering commitment to support soldiers who “with arms in hands” defend Russia’s interests.
Addressing the families of Russian soldiers who lost their lives in the conflict in Ukraine, Putin called for greater assistance to those actively engaged in the defense of the nation.
“Many of our courageous and heroic Russian warriors, even on this holiday, continue to defend the interests of our country with arms in hand,” Putin declared during the meeting while vowing support for soldiers.
On Orthodox Christmas, observed on January 6-7, President Putin attended an intimate midnight service, the Divine Liturgy, with a small group of families who lost loved ones in the conflict. State television footage captured the Russian leader at a chapel in his residence in Novo-Ogaryovo outside Moscow.
Contrary to the previous year, there was no call from Putin for a ceasefire in Ukraine to coincide with the holiday.
The Ukrainian government reported a Russian missile strike that claimed 11 lives and injured 10 in and around the eastern city of Pokrovsk on the same day. A Russian-installed official accused Kyiv of shelling parts of Donetsk, now under Moscow’s control.
The conflict between Russia and Ukraine, which began back in February 2022 with a full-scale invasion, has led to thousands of casualties and the displacement of millions. Despite nearly two years into the war, both sides have struggled to make significant gains along the frontline, resulting in increased air strikes on each other’s territories.
As Putin faces upcoming elections in March, he has shifted his rhetoric to emphasize traditional values and unity. In a separate statement on the Kremlin’s website, he urged Russians to uphold the values of “goodness, mercy, and justice.” Putin also directed the Russian Orthodox Church to strengthen “the institution of families” and patriotism.
The Orthodox Church, seen as a powerful ally by Putin, plays a significant role in promoting his vision of a “Russian World” based on conservative values. On Orthodox Christmas, worshippers at Moscow’s Christ the Saviour cathedral had the opportunity to pray in front of Russia’s renowned 15th-century Trinity icon, which Putin had transferred from Moscow’s Tretyakov Museum to the Orthodox Church the previous year. Critics expressed concerns over its preservation, but the fragile artwork was displayed in ordinary glass without special temperature and humidity control during the service.
Christmas services were also held in Russian-controlled areas of Ukraine, in contrast to the rest of the country where President Volodymyr Zelenskiy changed the Christmas holiday date to December 25 as part of an effort to “renounce Russian heritage.”





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