AS I SEE IT: Russia-Ukraine War: Will there be a truce on Christmas Day?

I don’t know if there will be a truce during the Russia-Ukraine War, but whatever happens, the show must go on… Christmas must go on, as the saying goes! I learned that the Ukrainians will celebrate Christmas even during their gloomiest time of the year.

It will be a Christmas celebration for the Ukrainians with the Sword of Damocles hanging over their head. Anytime, their celebrations can be disrupted, disturbed and stopped due to the war that’s still going on as Putin would like to finish it soon during the holiday season. But… they will go on with the celebrations anyway!

I can just imagine how they will be able to do it. I remember the stories handed down to us by our parents when they spent their Christmas during World War 11. They evacuated, together with about 250 friends and relatives, to the mountainous town of Bugallon, Pangasinan when the Japanese landed in the Ilocos Region. Pangasinan is part of the Ilocos Region so they need to find a safer place to stay.

Kremlin says Christmas ceasefire is not on the agenda in Ukraine. (Yahoo. News) Reuters likewise reported that Russia said on Wednesday it had not received any proposals about a “Christmas ceasefire” in Ukraine, from Russia, as fighting looks set to drag on through the winter.

Asked on Wednesday whether Moscow had seen proposals for a “Christmas ceasefire,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters: “No, no such offers have been received from anybody. This topic is not on the agenda.”

So, it seems that the Ukrainians have to spend Christmas while the war is on! No ceasefire expected… but they will do it, anyway! They said the war will never spoil their Christmas celebration, whatever it takes.

As the first step towards a peace deal after nearly 10 months of war, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy called on Russia this week to start withdrawing its troops by Christmas.

After a series of lightning Ukrainian counteroffensives which has seen Kyiv regain control over around half of the territory which Moscow captured in the first weeks of the war, neither side has made significant territorial gains in the past month.

A winter deadlock, military analysts say, could set in, even as fierce fighting continues especially in the eastern Ukrainian region of Donetsk, where Russian forces are pushing to capture the town of Bakhmut.

On Tuesday, Peskov said there would be no peace with Kyiv until Zelenskiy accepted the “realities” on the ground – namely, Russian control over four Ukrainian regions it annexed in September following “referendums” decried as coercive and illegal by Kyiv, the West and a majority of states at the United Nations.

But… how about the realities of the war that Russia is losing the ground battle? Ukrainians had shown military superiority in pushing back the Russian troops in territories they originally occupied. Will Putin accept this reality too?

Every year, both Russians and Ukrainians were celebrating Christmas on January 7. This year, however, there is a move to celebrate it on December 25, according to the Guardian that reported the Orthodox Church of Ukraine allowed worshippers to celebrate Christmas on December 25.

I agree with the article that Ukrainians celebrating Christmas on December 25, instead of January 7, is a move away from the traditional date of January 7 and is directed against Putin. The church has traditionally observed Christmas on 7 January, at the same time as the Moscow patriarchy, which has blessed Putin’s war. Patriarch Kirill, the head of the Russian Orthodox church, is a prominent Putin supporter and has said Russian soldiers who are killed will be cleansed of all their sins.

According to the Julian calendar, for centuries Ukrainians have celebrated Christmas on 7 January, the date on which Jesus was born, according to the Julian calendar. But following Vladimir Putin’s invasion in February, the Orthodox Church of Ukraine is allowing its congregations for the first time to celebrate Christmas on 25 December, in a move away from Russia and towards the west.

In an interview published by the Guardian, the church’s spokesperson, Archbishop Yevstratiy Zoria, said data would be collected to see how many worshippers attended services on the 25th, which this year falls on a Sunday.

“We don’t want to force anyone. We understand that doesn’t resolve anything,” he said. “I personally will decide what to do after talking with my parishioners. It’s better to promote this process slowly and successfully.”

It was pointed out that the move to December 25 is part of a bigger national process of dismantling the symbols of Russia, the Soviet Union and communism, which took off in 2014 when Putin annexed Crimea and kickstarted a pro-Moscow uprising in the eastern Donbas region.

Taras Pshenychnyi, a professor of church history at Kyiv’s Taras Shevchenko University, said his students had spontaneously raised the topic of Christmas and were in favor of shifting it to December 25.

Pshenychnyi said: “Tradition can be progressive or regressive. We need to depart from Russian cultural and mental traditions. They keep us hostage. It needs to be done cautiously, but it has to be done. Russia is using its Orthodox parishes on Ukrainian territory as an ideological weapon.”

It was reported that Kremlin politicians have portrayed the war in Ukraine as an eschatological showdown between good and evil. Dmitry Medvedev, Russia’s former president and deputy security council chair, frequently uses biblical allusions. He has threatened to finish the west in a nuclear Armageddon.

In his latest outburst on Friday, he said Russia’s “sacred goal” in Ukraine was to stop the Devil, or the “supreme ruler of hell”, as he called him. He dubbed Ukrainians as “a large pack of barking dogs from the western kennel”.

Pshenychnyi said he did not pay too much attention to Russia’s increasingly apocalyptic rhetoric, which includes claims Moscow is “de-Satanising” Kyiv.

“It’s one of many fakes Russia has been doing for the past eight years,” the professor said. “For ages, they have been trying to formulate some kind of image for Ukraine. Yesterday we weren’t a state. Today we are Satan. It’s idiotic, and from a bunch of weak-minded people,” he added.

Where will it all end? The conflict in Ukraine appears further than ever from resolution. Nuclear threats, mass graves, the sense that both sides are “all in”.

However, for the Ukrainians, the show must go on! Christmas will be celebrated on December 25!

(ELPIDIO R. ESTIOKO was a veteran journalist in the Philippines and a multi-awarded journalist here in the US. For feedbacks, comments, email the author at