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KYIV — Embattled Ukraine, which has defended itself for almost two years in opposition to the Russian invasion, is about to defy Moscow once more because it celebrates Christmas for the primary time on December 25 as a substitute of the January date extra carefully linked to Russia, at the same time as combating confirmed no indicators of letup with the oncoming of the vacation season.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy in July signed a regulation transferring the official Christmas Day vacation to December 25 from January 7, the day noticed by the Russian Orthodox Church.

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The regulation acknowledged that its objective was to “abandon the Russian heritage,” together with that of “imposing the celebration of Christmas” on January 7.

It cited Ukrainians’ “relentless, profitable battle for his or her identification [and] the need of all Ukrainians to dwell their lives with their very own traditions, holidays.”

Historically, Ukrainian Christians, most of whom are Orthodox, have celebrated Christmas on January 7, the day most different Orthodox-dominated nations — together with Russia and a number of other different Slavic nations — mark the vacation.

The change brings Ukraine’s Orthodox worshippers consistent with the nation’s Catholics, who earlier this yr accredited an identical change in calendars.

In his nightly video deal with posted as Ukraine ready to have fun the vacation, Zelenskiy stated: “At the moment, all Ukrainians are collectively.”

“All of us have fun Christmas collectively. On one date, as one massive household, as one nation, as one, one nation…. At the moment, it would unite thousands and thousands of voices — greater than ever earlier than.”

Within the southeastern cities of Dnipro and Zaporizhzhya, dozens of family of Ukrainian troopers being held by Russian forces as prisoners of struggle gathered for Christmas Eve rallies to brighten timber with the names of their family members.

“My son, the defender of Mariupol, has been in captivity for a second yr, the second Christmas. Our Christmas tree is an enchantment to society. It’s a reminder that we’re ready for our kids,” Iryna, the mom of a POW, unhappy in Dnipro.

In Zaporizhzhya, organizer Olha Plechun stated most people perceives captivity as simply detention, whereas circumstances of Ukrainian navy members in Russian custody symbolize a “gradual dying.”

Relatives of Ukrainian prisoners of war protested for their release on December 24 in several cities.

Kinfolk of Ukrainian prisoners of struggle protested for his or her launch on December 24 in a number of cities.

“Our guys are being tortured. We want exchanges. Our enemy just isn’t noble: They don’t observe any conventions,” she stated.

Ukrainian authorities stated that as of November 17, at the least 3,574 navy personnel and 763 civilians are in Russian captivity.

On the battlefield, at the least 4 individuals have been killed and 9 others wounded in Russian shelling within the southern Ukrainian metropolis of Kherson over the previous 24 hours, regional authorities stated on December 24.

Russian troops fired 71 shells at Kherson, hitting the town middle, residential areas, medical and academic establishments, and “important infrastructure amenities,” Oleksandr Prokudin, head of the regional navy administration wrote on Telegram.

Prokudin stated a pair of their 80s and a baby have been among the many victims.

Ukrainian forces recaptured Kherson following a number of months of Russian occupation in November final yr, however Russian forces proceed to shell the world.

Individually, Kyiv stated Ukraine’s air protection shot down 14 out of 15 Russian drones launched in a single day.

“Ukraine’s air pressure and protection forces destroyed 14 Shaheds in Mykolayiv, Kirovohrad, Zaporizhzhya, Dnipro, and Khmelnytskiy areas,” the Ukrainian Air Drive stated on the Telegram messaging app.

There have been no reviews of harm or casualties because the outcomes of the drone assaults.

In the meantime, Ukraine is awaiting a long-desired increase to its navy arsenal within the coming days because it battles to counter Russian air supremacy over its skies.

Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte informed Zelenskiy in a cellphone name on December 22 Ukraine will possible obtain it first cargo of superior F-16 combat jets earlier than the top of the yr.

“At the moment, I knowledgeable President Zelenskiy of our authorities’s resolution to organize an preliminary 18 F-16 fighter plane for supply to Ukraine,” Rutte stated late on December 22 in a submit on social media platform X.

In a video message late on December 23, Zelenskiy thanked Germany, Finland, and the Netherlands for offering navy assist to assist Kyiv combat off the Russian invasion.

Germany has equipped Gepard anti-aircraft tank, 155-caliber artillery shells, and different crucial weapons, Zelenskiy stated.

The Netherlands and Finland despatched additional assist packages every totaling $110 million, the Ukrainian president stated, with out offering extra particulars.

With reporting by AFP, dpa, and Reuters

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