(Updates with Biden quotes)
WASHINGTON, Jan. 5 (Reuters) – US President Joe Biden suggested that Vladimir Putin’s struggle in Ukraine after 10 months of war and thousands of lives lost had prompted the Russian president to offer a 36-hour ceasefire. some oxygen.”
The Kremlin said Putin had ordered a ceasefire from Friday afternoon following a call for a Christmas truce by Patriarch Kirill of Moscow, head of the Russian Orthodox Church.
Ukraine rejected the ceasefire offer over Orthodox Christmas, saying there would be no ceasefire until Russia withdraws its invading forces from occupied land.
Asked about the proposed ceasefire, Biden told reporters at the White House, “I am reluctant to comment on anything Putin says. I found it interesting that he was willing to bomb hospitals, nurseries and churches… on the 25th and New Years. I mean, I think he’s trying to find some oxygen.’
Putin’s ceasefire was to take effect on January 6, when many Orthodox Christians, including those living in Russia and Ukraine, celebrate Christmas. It would be the first major ceasefire of the more than 10-month-old war that has claimed tens of thousands of lives and devastated large parts of Ukraine. (Reporting by Andrea Shalal and Steve Holland; written by Susan Heavey and Kanishka Singh; editing by Howard Goller)