Vladimir Putin attends Orthodox Christmas mass alone as ceasefire request fails to hold

Russia's most secure cathedral was ordered to stage a midnight Orthodox Christmas service so President Vladimir Putin could worship alone.

Putin attended the service at Moscow's Cathedral of the Annunciation, originally designed as a church for the Russian tsars.

Footage released by the Kremlin shows him standing alone as Orthodox priests in golden robes conducted a ceremony holding long candles.

On the ground, Putin's unilateral request for a 36-hour truce in Ukraine appears to have failed.

Russia's Defence Ministry has claimed its forces observed the ceasefire, but media reports say both sides exchanged artillery fire in eastern Ukraine after Putin's Friday deadline.

Though war rages on in the country, Ukrainians have tried to have a relatively normal Orthodox Christmas.

In Kyiv's Pechersk Lavra Cathedral, hundreds attended the Christmas Day service - despite below-freezing temperatures in Ukraine's capital. Many heard it spoken in Ukrainian for the first time, a demonstration of independence from the Russian orthodox church.

Watch the video in the video player above to find out more.