Ukraine marks its third Easter at war | Religion News

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Ukraine has been hit by yet another barrage as it marked its third Easter at war with Russia’s invading forces.

As Ukraine celebrated Orthodox Easter on Sunday, Russia launched a barrage of drones concentrated on the east. The attack wounded more than a dozen people, while Moscow claimed its troops took control of a strategic village on the front line.

Sunday marked the third Easter since Russia launched its invasion of Ukraine on February 24, 2022.

Ukraine’s air force said it shot down 23 of the 24 Shahed drones Russia launched overnight. However, six people, including a child, were wounded in a strike in the Kharkiv region, regional Governor Oleh Syniehubov said.

Fourteen more were wounded in an air strike on Sunday afternoon on Kharkiv, the regional prosecutor’s office said. Syniehubov said the city was attacked by an aerial bomb.

Fires broke out when debris from drones that were shot down fell on buildings in the neighbouring Dnipropetrovsk region. No casualties were reported.

The Russian Ministry of Defence announced that its troops had taken control of the village of Ocheretyne, which has been in the crosshairs of Russian forces in the Donetsk region.

Officials in Kyiv urged residents to follow Orthodox Easter services online due to safety concerns. Serhiy Popko, head of the Kyiv city administration, warned that “even on such bright days of celebration, we can expect evil deeds from the aggressor”.

In his Easter address, President Volodymyr Zelenskyy called on Ukrainians to be “united in one common prayer”.

In a video filmed in front of Kyiv’s Saint Sophia Cathedral, Zelenskyy – wearing a traditional Vyshyvanka embroidered shirt – said that God “has a chevron with the Ukrainian flag on his shoulder”.

With “such an ally”, Zelenskyy said, “life will definitely win over death”.

A majority of Ukrainians identify as Orthodox Christians, although the conflict has helped divide the church.

Many belong to the independent Orthodox Church of Ukraine. The rival Ukrainian Orthodox Church was loyal to the patriarch in Moscow until splitting from Russia after the 2022 invasion and is viewed with suspicion by many.

Eastern Orthodox Christians usually celebrate Easter later than Catholic and Protestant Christians, because they use a different method of calculating the date for the holy day that marks Christ’s resurrection.

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