Russian President Vladimir Putin has instructed the country’s defense minister to order a ceasefire in Ukraine over Orthodox Christmas.

The ceasefire will take effect for 36 hours from noon on January 6.

Orthodox Christmas is traditionally celebrated by many on January 6 and 7.

According to the Kremlin press service, Putin made the announcement in response to an earlier call by Russian Patriarch Kirill for weapons to silence the Orthodox holiday.

“Due to the fact that a large number of citizens of the Orthodox faith live in various areas of the conflict zone, we call on the Ukrainian side to observe a ceasefire and allow them to attend Christmas Eve and Christmas services,” said a statement posted on the Kremlin website.

Patriarch Kirill has been an ardent supporter of the Kremlin’s actions in Ukraine, including telling Russian soldiers that dying for the cause would “wash away all sins.”

Earlier on Thursday, in a call with Putin, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan called on the Russian leader to implement a unilateral ceasefire to support efforts to end the war.

In response, Putin reiterated Russian demands that Ukraine accept Moscow’s recent annexation of four Ukrainian regions before serious peace talks can begin.

The annexation moves have been widely condemned as illegal and Russian forces have been unable to maintain control over the territories.

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