European church leaders addressed a letter imploring Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy and Russian President Vladimir Putin to observe an Easter ceasefire today.
In 2019, the ecumenical patriarch of Constantinople recognized the Orthodox Church of Ukraine, leading to strong backlash from Moscow and the Russian Orthodox Church (ROC), which see Ukraine as part of their political and religious domains, respectively. Since the invasion began, Patriarch Kirill of the ROC gave his blessing to the Russian army and to the war, while also refraining from condemning the deaths of Ukrainian civilians.
While UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres believes that a humanitarian ceasefire is currently not possible, a religious call to ceasefire is also unlikely given the ROC’s blessing of the Russian army and the invasion. However, a partial one-day ceasefire may be possible on April 24, the day Orthodox Easter begins in Ukraine and Russia.
The likelihood of an Easter ceasefire agreement is low considering that Putin is in a race against time and the daily toll of economic sanctions. Even if such an agreement were to be reached, it would remain symbolic rather than politically sincere. Therefore, expect Putin to continue this war until he has established full control over at the least Ukraine’s Donbass region.
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Alex is an Analyst focusing on political events in the post-Soviet space. With a background in international law and diplomacy, his expertise lies in the geopolitical, economic and energy security dynamics of the South Caucasus.