EThe images of Orthodox Christmas celebrations in Kiev and Moscow are very different: in the Ukrainian capital, the new Ukrainian Orthodox Church held Christmas mass for the first time in the famous cave monastery. Several hundred faithful, dozens of journalists and Culture Minister Olexander Tkachenko followed the call to service at the Assumption Cathedral on Saturday. The service was broadcast live on Ukrainian television.
By the end of 2022, Ukraine’s most prominent church was used by the rival Ukrainian Orthodox Church. However, their use contracts for the two main chapels of the ten shrines at the UNESCO World Heritage Site of the Cave Monastery were not extended later.
The Ukrainian Orthodox Church has long been affiliated with the Moscow Patriarchate, but severed ties with Russia in 2022.
Vladimir Putin celebrated Christmas alone in the Cathedral of the Annunciation, one of three Orthodox churches in the Kremlin. Photos and footage distributed by Russian state media on Saturday show standing-room-only saints inside the 70-year-old church.
In a Kremlin statement, Putin thanked the Russian Orthodox Church for its role in society. Its influential leader, Patriarch Kirill, is considered a staunch supporter of the war against Ukraine.
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11:52 am: Makeiev has high hopes for German infantry fighting vehicles
Ukrainian Ambassador to Germany, Oleksii Makeiev, considers the planned delivery of German armored personnel carriers a significant favor to his country. “Our ground forces will greatly benefit from the Mortar infantry fighting vehicle,” says Makeive of the “Wirtschaftswoche”. He noted the use of the Iris-T anti-aircraft system and the Geppard anti-aircraft tanks already supplied by Germany, as well as the Patriot anti-aircraft system from the US and Germany. “It closes Ukrainian defenses in the air and on the ground,” explains the ambassador.
11:40 am – In 2022 Ukraine received more than 30 billion euros of support
According to its own reports, Russia-occupied Ukraine received the equivalent of 30 billion euros in aid and loans from abroad last year. About 40 percent came from the United States, according to the Ukrainian Central Bank. About 25 percent came from the European Union and eight percent from the International Monetary Fund. Germany contributed another five percent.
This support amounted to 16 percent of Ukraine’s pre-war economic output. According to estimates by the Ministry of Economic Affairs in Kyiv, Ukrainian GDP could fall by more than 30 percent in 2022 as a result of the war.
08:00 – Zelensky wants to congratulate and further support Kevin McCarthy
President of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelensky congratulated US Speaker Kevin McCarthy. In one Tweet Zelenskyy wrote that US support is crucial to Ukraine’s success on the battlefield. “We continue to count on your continued support and continued American assistance as we move closer to our common victory,” he wrote.
03:32 – Russia: Drone attack on Crimea thwarted
Russian air defenses have foiled another drone attack on the Crimean peninsula, which has been annexed by Moscow since 2014, according to state media. The unmanned aerial vehicle was shot down early Saturday on a ship near the Russian Black Sea Fleet’s naval base in Sevastopol, the city’s governor, Mikhail Razvojev, wrote on his Telegram channel, state-owned TASS. The port has been the target of Ukrainian drone attacks on several occasions, most recently on January 4 when two drones were shot down.
01:30 – Belarusian opposition worried about possible mobilization
Concerns are growing among Belarusian opposition parties about a possible rally in their country in support of Russia’s war of aggression against Ukraine. Pawel Latuschka, an opposition politician living in exile in Warsaw, told the Teachers’ Network of Germany (RND) that preparations were well underway. Belarusian ruler Alexander Lukashenko can push the Kremlin’s orders button to start mobilizing. Former Belarusian culture minister Latushka is a member of exiled opposition leader Svetlana Tichanovskaya’s cabinet.
Almost all employees reporting to the Belarusian Interior Ministry were asked to hand over their passports, Latushka reported, citing Minsk sources. This information is available from various cities of the country. “This means that they cannot leave the territory of Belarus if they are mobilized,” Latushka said.
1:01 am – London wants to push ahead with Russian war crimes probe
London wants to push ahead with an investigation into Russian war crimes in Ukraine and has called for an international meeting with the Netherlands. In March, the British government announced that justice ministers from around the world would meet in London to organize financial and practical support for the work of the International Criminal Court in The Hague.
“Russian forces must know they cannot act with impunity and we will support Ukraine until justice is served,” British Justice Minister Dominic Raab said in a statement. The international community must provide strong support to the International Criminal Court to hold war criminals accountable.
12:01 am – US announces largest military package for Ukraine
The United States announced the largest military aid package for Ukraine to date, $3 billion (equivalent to about 2.82 billion euros). The package, which includes 50 Bradley infantry fighting vehicles and dozens of other armored vehicles, will help Ukraine “advance and reclaim terrain,” US Deputy Defense Secretary Laura Cooper told reporters on Friday.
It’s “the biggest package we’ve ever committed to,” Cooper said. Armed with 500 TOW anti-tank missiles and 250,000 rounds of ammunition for their machine guns, the Bradley armored personnel carriers are considered to be of military importance. The vehicles will further strengthen “Ukraine’s ability to conduct complex maneuvers,” said Cooper, who is in charge of Russia and Ukraine at the Pentagon.
This is especially true in the south and east of the country – and in almost all weather conditions and on almost any terrain. On Thursday, the United States and Germany announced the delivery of Bradley infantry fighting vehicles to Washington and Marter infantry fighting vehicles to Berlin.
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