Putin declares a Christmas ceasefire in Ukraine: World in Photos


World in Photos: Vladimir Putin declares a ceasefire — and Ukrainians head for underground shelters

Late Thursday, Russian President Vladimir Putin announced a ceasefire to mark the Russian Orthodox Christmas. It was a unilateral declaration — as in, no ceasefire had been negotiated with the Ukrainians — and it was met with cynicism and even derision in Ukraine and elsewhere. Some saw Putin’s move as a cynical effort to garner headlines and global backing; others called it a ploy to win a badly needed pause for Russia’s armed forces. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said the Kremlin “wants to use Christmas as a cover” to move its troops and ammunition.

“Everyone in the world knows how the Kremlin uses lulls in the war to continue the war with new force,” Zelenskyy said.

As of this writing, there is no ceasefire. It was meant to last for 36 hours and begin at noon Friday in Ukraine; before 1 p.m. local time, air-raid alerts were sounded, sending Ukrainians all across the country into underground shelters. Later, Ukraine’s military reported several Russian attacks — among them 12 missiles fired in the regions of Donetsk and Dnipropetrovsk, and strikes against Ukrainian positions in Kherson and Bakhmut. In midafternoon, Kyrylo Tymoshenko, the deputy head of the Ukrainian president’s office, said that the Russians had struck a residential area in the eastern city of Kramatorsk. Russian officials said any attacks were defensive — responses to Ukrainian fire.

Meanwhile, as this curation of photos shows, those not on the front lines have been doing what they can to commemorate — if not celebrate — the holiday. Children wore traditional folk costumes to Christmas gatherings in underground shelters in Lviv in the west, and residents of the besieged city of Bakhmut in the east huddled around a Christmas tree with handouts of bread and tea. The photos also show glimmers of wartime festivity in the streets of the capital, Kyiv, and Ukrainian soldiers along the front lines at Vuhledar, in the Russian-occupied region of Donetsk. There, too, the fighting continues.

It seems strange but also important to say, to those who celebrate: Merry Christmas.

  • Tom Nagorski
    Tom Nagorski

    Global Editor

    Tom Nagorski is the global editor at Grid, where he oversees our coverage of global security, U.S.-China relations, migration trends, global economics and U.S. foreign policy.

  • Mariana Labbate
    Mariana Labbate

    Global Editorial Assistant

    Mariana Labbate is the editorial assistant for Grid's Global team.