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

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy in July signed a legislation 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 legislation said 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 id [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 several other different Slavic nations — mark the vacation.

The swap brings Ukraine’s Orthodox worshippers in step with the nation’s Catholics, who earlier this 12 months authorised an analogous change in calendars.

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

“All of us have fun Christmas collectively. On one date, as one large household, as one nation, as one, one nation…. Right this moment, it would unite hundreds of thousands of voices — greater than ever earlier than.”

Within the southeastern cities of Dnipro and Zaporizhzhya, dozens of family members of Ukrainian troopers being held by Russian forces as prisoners of battle 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 12 months, the second Christmas. Our Christmas tree is an enchantment to society. It’s a reminder that we’re ready for our youngsters,” Iryna, the mom of a POW, unhappy in Dnipro.

In Zaporizhzhya, organizer Olha Plechun mentioned most people perceives captivity as simply detention, whereas situations of Ukrainian army members in Russian custody characterize a “sluggish loss of life.”

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

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

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

Ukrainian authorities mentioned that as of November 17, no less than 3,574 army personnel and 763 civilians are in Russian captivity.

Additionally on December 24, the Ukrainian and Russian militaries continued to change unconfirmed claims of capturing down the opposite facet’s warplanes.

The Ukrainian Air Power mentioned anti-aircraft items had downed a Russian Su-34 fighter bomber close to Mariupol, the Russia-occupied southern port metropolis.

Russia’s army earlier mentioned its forces had shot down 4 Ukrainian army plane over the previous 24 hours.

That got here simply two days after Zelenskiy on December 22 congratulated the Ukrainian army for capturing down three Russian army planes over southern Ukraine.

On the battlefield, no less than 4 folks had been killed and 9 others wounded in Russian shelling within the southern Ukrainian metropolis of Kherson over the previous 24 hours, regional authorities mentioned on December 24.

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

Prokudin mentioned a pair of their 80s and a baby had been among the many victims.

Ukrainian forces recaptured Kherson following a number of months of Russian occupation in November final 12 months, however Russian forces proceed to shell the world.

Individually, Kyiv mentioned 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 Power mentioned on the Telegram messaging app.

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

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

Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte instructed Zelenskiy in a cellphone name on December 22 Ukraine will seemingly obtain it first cargo of superior F-16 battle jets earlier than the top of the 12 months.

“Right this moment, I knowledgeable President Zelenskiy of our authorities’s determination to organize an preliminary 18 F-16 fighter plane for supply to Ukraine,” Rutte mentioned 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 army support to assist Kyiv battle off the Russian invasion.

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

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

With reporting by AFP, dpa, and Reuters

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