A high-ranking Ukraine defense official said Thursday that a Christmas ceasefire would only be possible if Russia began to withdraw its troops as the war nears its 10th full month.
“I believe that there will be a complete ceasefire on our part only when no invaders remain on our land,” Brig. Gen. Oleksii Hromov, deputy chief of the Main Operational Directorate of the General Staff of Ukraine’s armed forces, told reporters according to Pravda.
The brigadier general’s comments came after Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy suggested Monday that Russia could show it is willing to engage in a diplomatic end to the conflict ahead of the holiday season.
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“We offer Russia an opportunity to make a real, meaningful step towards diplomatic settlement,” he said in a statement to the G7. “The holidays are ahead, celebrated by billions of people around the world.
“This is the time when normal people think about peace, not about aggression. I offer Russia the opportunity to at least try to demonstrate that they can abandon the way of aggression,” he continued. “It would be a right step to start withdrawing troops from internationally recognized borders of Ukraine this Christmas.”
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Russia has repeatedly claimed it is open to diplomatically ending the war it started by invading Ukraine on Feb. 24, but only on its own terms which would mean holding onto the five regions it has illegally annexed since 2014.
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov responded to the suggestion of a Russian withdrawal on Christmas and said it was “out of the question.”
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Peskov said Kyiv needs to accept the “realities” of the last 20 years, though he did not expand on what events he was referring to in that time frame.
Ukrainian defense officials have reportedly said they are under no impression that Russia would actually cease its operations.