Amid ongoing negotiations between Russia and Ukraine to end the current conflict, a number of prominent outside entities and individuals have also joined the chorus of voices calling for a temporary humanitarian cease-fire.
That would include United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres, who on Tuesday called for a four-day cease-fire to coincide with the Eastern Orthodox Holy Week but was flatly rejected hours later by a top Russian U.N. official, Fox News reported.
The Russians insisted that the U.N. leader’s cease-fire request was “insincere” and intended only to provide the Ukrainian defenders with a chance to rest and rearm themselves while Russia launches a renewed offensive in the eastern Donbas region of the invaded country.
Russia rejects requested cease-fire agreement
The New York Times reported that Secretary-General Guterres had made his request for a four-day cease-fire across the entirety of Ukraine during a Security Council meeting for the purpose of allowing civilians to evacuate from battle zones and for food and medicine to be brought in to those who couldn’t leave.
Guterres had further lamented that an estimated 12 million Ukrainians were in need of humanitarian assistance right now, a number he expected to increase to nearly 16 million, or more than 40 percent of the Ukrainian population, during the ongoing Donbas offensive.
However, Russia’s Deputy U.N. Ambassador Dmitry Polyanskiy told the Council that the cease-fire calls were “insincere, and in practice, they merely point to an aspiration to provide Kyiv nationalists breathing room to regroup and receive more drones, more antitank missiles, and more MANPADS,” the designation for man-portable air-defense systems.
Interestingly enough, given its lack of opposition to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, China’s representatives at the U.N. Security Council actually signaled support for the requested cease-fire and urged both combatant nations to work towards achieving an end to the fighting.
Orthodox Church leaders call for Holy Week cease-fire
The U.N. leader wasn’t the only one to call for a cease-fire during the Eastern Orthodox Holy Week, as the acting general secretary of the World Council of Churches, Father Ioan Sauca, made a similar request in a letter sent Tuesday to the Patriarch of the Russian Orthodox Church, His Holiness Kirill.
Sauca lamented the ongoing tragedy of the war, particularly for innocent civilians, in contrast with the upcoming celebration of the Day of Resurrection for the Orthodox Church, and even pointed out that there had been such a temporary cease-fire on the Eastern Front during World War One for soldiers and civilians to enjoy that holy day in peace.
“Our humble request to your Holiness in this particular and impossible situation is to intervene and ask publicly for a ceasefire for at least a few hours during the Resurrection service,” Sauca wrote. “To give a chance to the soldiers and to the terrified civilians to embrace and greet one another with the Paschal greeting, to silence for a moment the bombs and the missiles and to hear instead the triumphant sound of the church bells and the joyful singing of the faithful people. May such a short ceasefire be a foretaste and a proof that a lasting peace can be achieved.”
Humanitarian evacuation corridor established for Mariupol residents
In a potential good sign, though, Fox News noted that Ukrainian media outlet Espreso reported that a humanitarian corridor had been agreed upon for Wednesday to allow for a convoy of civilian evacuees to exit the besieged Ukrainian port city of Mariupol.
However, similar humanitarian corridors out of that city and others have been established numerous times over the past several weeks and always end up collapsing due to violations of the tentative agreements by one side or the other.