Ukraine said on Tuesday its security service (SBU) had conducted a raid on a historic Orthodox monastery in Kyiv after the country’s intelligence cited links between the Church and Russian agents.
The 11th century Kyiv Pechersk Lavra, located in the south of the Ukrainian capital, cut its ties with the Kremlin soon after Russian President Vladimir Putin sent his troops into Ukraine in February. The seat of a branch of Ukraine’s Orthodox Church was formerly under Moscow’s jurisdiction.
In a statement, the SBU said “counter-intelligence measures” had been conducted as in order to “counter the subversive activities of the Russian security services in Ukraine.”
Ukraine wanted the UNESCO World Heritage site not to be in a position as a “center of the ‘Russian world,'” the statement added, saying the 11th century building should not be used to store weapons.
Vladimir Legoyda, a spokesman for the Russian Orthodox Church described the move by the SBU as an “act of intimidation” against Ukrainian believers.
“We pray for our fellow believers… who are becoming victims of lawlessness and we call on all sympathetic people to do everything possible to stop this persecution,” he posted on social media.
Here are the other main headlines from the war in Ukraine on Tuesday, November 22:
Kherson takes down pro-Russia signs
Workers in Kherson have set about removing pro-Russia signs after the city was liberated by Ukrainian forces earlier this month.
Among other things, the signs expressed a love for Russia and promoted the benefits of Russian passports and pensions.
They have been replaced with new signs with slogans like “Kherson — hero city” and “Compatriots, you are free” printed on a yellow background.
“The moment our soldiers entered, these posters were printed and handed over to us,” local Ukrainian government spokesperson Antonina Dobrozhenska said on Tuesday.
Zelenskyy: Russia using winter as ‘weapon of mass destruction’
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has accused Russia of using the cold winter weather as a weapon in its invasion.
Moscow has ramped up attacks on Ukrainian electricity and gas infrastructure in recent weeks, leaving much of the country without heating.
“The Kremlin wants to transform the cold this winter into a weapon of mass destruction,” Zelenskyy said in a video address to a meeting of French mayors on Tuesday.
“To survive this winter and to prevent Russia transforming the cold into an instrument of terror and submission, we need a lot of things,” he added.
Separately, Zelenskyy also announced the establishment of thousands of so-called “invincibility centers” that will offer electricity, heat, water, internet, mobile phone reception and pharmacy supplies free of charge, around the clock.
More than 4,000 such centers have already been set up.
“If massive Russian strikes happen again, and it’s clear power will not be restored for hours, the ‘invincibility centers’ will go into action with all key services,” Zelenskyy said in his nightly video address.
US makes progress on Russian oil price cap
The United States Treasury Department has released new details of its plan to impose a price cap on Russian oil.
The plan is designed to reduce Russia’s wartime revenues while keeping oil in the market.
An anonymous official told the Associated Press that the newly released details will help companies and maritime insurers understand how to abide by the price ceiling. However, the agreed-upon price cap is still being finalized by the US and its allies.
“We expect the next few days for them to complete their consultations on price setting, and for us as a coalition to move forward… implementing the price cap ahead of December 5,” a Treasury official told reporters.
Kyiv aims to liberate 2,000 more towns
Around 2,000 Ukrainian towns and villages need to be liberated from Russian occupation, Ukrainian President Zelenskyy said in an address to French mayors on Tuesday.
He added that some cities like the port of Mariupol or Volnovakha in the Donetsk region have been completely destroyed.
Since the beginning of the invasion in February, Ukrainian forces have liberated some 1,880 villages, according to the deputy head of the presidential office, Kyrylo Tymoshenko.
Moscow-backed official in Crimea reports ‘drone attack’
The Kremlin-installed governor of the Sevastopol administrative region in Russian-annexed Crimea claimed that a drone attack targeted the peninsula.
Razvozhayev said air defense forces shot down two drones, and added that no civilian infrastructure had been damaged.
“Now the city is quiet,” Razvozhayev said. “But all forces and services are in a state of combat readiness.”
Last month, Moscow withdrew from a UN-brokered grain deal after its Black Sea Fleet, based in Crimea’s Sevastopol port, was attacked.
Russia later agreed to resume the deal.
US to provide additional $4.5-billion grant for Ukraine
US Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen said Washington would provide $4.5 billion (€4.37 billion) in financial support for Ukraine aimed at “bolstering economic stability and supporting core government services.”
In a separate statement, the World Bank said the US grant was part of a multi-billion-dollar package to help Ukraine.
The US funds come “at a critical time as the country faces severe energy supply disruption and colder weather,” said World Bank President David Malpass.
“Our commitment to deliver urgent assistance to the people of Ukraine is strong as ever,” he added.
The World Bank said it had so far distributed more than $11.4 billion of the mobilized $17.8 billion emergency financing for Ukrainians.
According to Yellen, the latest funds bring Washington’s direct budget support for Kyiv to $13 billion, all in grants.
Russia condemns alleged shooting of prisoners by Ukraine forces
The State Duma, the Russian assembly with advisory or legislative functions, has condemned the alleged shooting of Russian troops during their capture by Ukrainian forces.
Duma deputies called on other countries to also condemn Ukraine.
According to a statement from the Duma, reported on by the state news agency TASS, the killings were a “flagrant violation” by Ukraine of international humanitarian law and the Geneva Convention on the Treatment of Prisoners of War.
Ukraine said one of the Russian soldiers suddenly opened fire instead of lying down.
The Ukrainian prosecutor general’s office launched its investigation on Tuesday into whether the Russian troops in the video were “feigning surrender and opening fire on the soldiers of the Armed Forces of Ukraine.”
The country’s Deputy Prime Minister, Olha Stefanishyna, previously said Ukrainian troops are under orders to take as many prisoners as possible so they can be swapped in prisoner exchanges with Russia. She called Russia’s allegations “very unlikely.”
The UN Human Rights Office has said it is also carrying out an investigation of the incident.
Ukraine blackouts ‘likely’ until March
Rolling blackouts across Ukraine may continue well into next year, according to one of the country’s energy chiefs.
“Although there are fewer blackouts now, I want everyone to understand: Most likely, Ukrainians will have to live with blackouts until at least the end of March,” Sergey Kovalenko, CEO of private energy provider DTEK Yasno, said in a social media post.
“I think we need to be prepared for different options, even the worst ones. Stock up on warm clothes, blankets, think about what will help you wait out a long shutdown,” he said.
More coverage on the war in Ukraine
Amid the ongoing conflict, a new exhibition in Ukraine has opened, exploring 100 years of Jewish life in the country. For more information on this, check out this DW piece.
zc, fb, jsi/jcg (AP, AFP, dpa, Reuters)