The Catholic Archbishop of Ukraine welcomes the counter-offensive

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Preaching in Moscow on the same day, however, Patriarch Kirill of Moscow praised Russia for continuing on its “special historical path” and its “fatal global mission”. President Vladimir Putin could be compared to Saint Daniel of Moscow (1261-1303), he said, in defending Russia against those “who dream of crushing [it]as a truly independent state.

“Russia does not depend on any center of power outside its sovereign territory. This is a great privilege, but also a huge cross, because there are always those who seek to bring a rich and strong country like Russia into their orbit of influence,” the Patriarch told Danilov Monastery.

Ukrainian tanks and armored vehicles reportedly recaptured at least 2,000 square miles of Russian-occupied land around the northeastern city of Kharkiv on Monday.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov insisted that Russian operations in Ukraine would continue until “all tasks initially set [de-nazification and demilitarisation of Ukraine]had been fulfilled, as a wave of missile strikes caused power outages in the Kharkiv and Donetsk regions.

Pope Francis said during an audience in Rome on Sunday that Cardinal Konrad Krajewski, prefect of the Vatican’s charitable dicastery, would return to Ukraine this week “to concretely testify to the closeness of the pope to the Church.”

Meanwhile, the spokesman for the New Independent Orthodox Church of Ukraine, Archbishop Eustratiy (Zorya), warned on Facebook Ukrainians who had collaborated with the Russian occupiers, including Orthodox Metropolitan Elisei (Ivanov) of ‘Izyum, who was picked up on Saturday, to expect “Justice”.

In a final statement from its eight-day plenary assembly in Karlsruhe, Germany, the World Council of Churches said the “unlawful and unjustifiable” war following the Feb. 24 Russian invasion had “tragic consequences” for Ukrainians, with more than 13,000 civilian casualties and a third of the population forced to flee, amid “numerous reports of atrocities”.

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