Zelensky calls for unity in Easter address as Russia launches fresh drone attack

As Ukraine marked its third Easter at war, Russia launched a barrage of drones concentrated in Ukraine’s east where the situation on the front line is worsening.

President Volodymyr Zelensky urged Ukrainians in an Easter address to be united in prayer and called God an “ally” in the war with Russia.

Ukraine’s air force said on Sunday that Russia had launched 24 Shahed drones, of which 23 had been shot down by air defences.

Six people, including a child, were wounded in a drone strike in the eastern Kharkiv region, regional governor Oleh Syniehubov said.

A priest blesses Ukrainian servicemen of the 72nd Separate Mechanised Brigade in Dnipropetrovsk region (AP Photo/Francisco Seco)

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”.

Mr Zelensky called on Ukrainians to unite in prayer for each other and soldiers on the front line.

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

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

A majority of Ukrainians identify as Orthodox Christians, though the church is divided.

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 Ukrainians.

In Moscow, worshippers including President Vladimir Putin packed Moscow’s landmark Christ the Saviour Cathedral late on Saturday for a night-time Easter service led by Patriarch Kirill, head of the Russian Orthodox Church and an outspoken supporter of the Kremlin.

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

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