ORTHODOX from around Ukraine will gather in Kiev on Sunday to
pray for protection from "the invasion of strangers".
Patriarch Filaret of the independent Ukrainian Orthodox Church
(Kiev Patriarchate) will lead the service, calling for "the
protection of the Mother of God". The service will be based on an
Akathist - an Orthodox hymn or prayer addressed to a saint.
"I sincerely pray for peace in Ukraine," Patriarch Filaret said,
"and to stop the invasion of strangers to our land. It is time to
turn to our Lady and ask: 'Rejoice, our Joy; and protect us from
every ill by thy precious veil.'"
At the G20 meeting in Brisbane earlier this month, the Canadian
Prime Minister, Stephen Harper, greeted the Russian President,
Vladimir Putin, by saying: "I guess I'll shake your hand, but I
have only one thing to say to you: You need to get out of Ukraine."
Mr Putin reportedly responded by saying: "I'm not in Ukraine."
His assertions run counter to statements from Ukraine and NATO.
Speaking to the NATO Parliamentary Assembly at The Hague on Monday,
the general secretary, Jens Stoltenberg, said that NATO was "fully
supporting the independence, the sovereignty and the territorial
integrity of Ukraine.
"And we are calling on Russia to stop violating international
law and to respect the sovereignty of Ukraine. And we are calling
on Russia to pull back its forces from eastern Ukraine and to
respect the Minsk agreements; and to stop fuelling the conflict by
supporting the separatists and use all of its influence on the
separatists to make sure they are respecting the ceasefire."
Also on Monday, the Ukrainian President, Petro Poroshenko, told
journalists that he would hold a referendum on whether Ukraine
should join NATO "once the conditions are right". The process for
acquiring membership of NATO is complex, and could take a number of
years to complete.