US President Joe Biden said Thursday that Russian leader Vladimir Putin’s order for a two-day Orthodox Christmas ceasefire in Ukraine was simply an attempt to find breathing space for his war effort.
“He was ready to bomb hospitals and nurseries and churches” on Dec. 25 and New Year’s Day, Biden said, adding, “I think he’s trying to find some oxygen.”
State Department spokesman Ned Price called Putin’s ceasefire “cynical” and said, “We have little faith in the intentions behind this announcement.”
He expressed concern that Russia would use the pause to “regroup, equip and finally attack again” and said Putin could try to “fool the world” by making it appear he wants peace .
“This does not appear to be a change in the tide of the war,” he said.
“If Russia was really serious about peace, about ending this war, it would withdraw its troops from the sovereign territory of Ukraine.”
The United States also slammed the Wagner Group — a group of mercenaries close to Putin who is under US sanctions — for announcing that it had coordinated the release of an initial group of Russian prisoners who accepted amnesty in exchange for fighting in Ukraine.
Wagner boss Yevgeny Prigozhin appeared in a video speaking to a gathering of men – some injured and whose faces were blurred.
“We would see it as just a barbaric tactic,” said Price, who predicted many prisoners would die at the front.
“Even if there are tens of thousands of troops that can fall under Wagner’s control – under the control of Mr. Prigozhin – these are not forces that will be able to turn the tide of the war. These are not forces that have been trained,” Price said .
(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is being published from a syndicated feed.)
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