Following growing tensions with Russia, Ukrainian officials on Friday has upped the ante, banning Russian men from entering the country. The announcement was made following Russian border guards’ attacks and shootings on three Ukrainian vessels and the crew members near the Crimean Peninsula. The vessels were traveling through the Kerch Strait, heading to the Sea of Azov. The ships and all the 24 crew members on board were captured by the Russians.
Of course, there has been increasing antagonism between Ukraine and Russia following Moscow’s annexation of the Crimean Peninsula from Ukraine in 2014. The hostility was further fueled with Russia supporting separatists in Ukraine’s east with a secret supply of troops and weapons. The clashes led to the death of over 10,000 people in 2014. The killings, however, subsided after a 2015 truce.
The announcement was made on Friday at the security meeting by Petro Tsygykal, chief of the Ukrainian Border Guard Service. It was announced that all Russian males between age 16 and60 are barred from entering the country while martial law is in place. The announcement came shortly after the U.S President, Donald Trump, on Thursday decided to scrap an already scheduled meeting with Russian leader Vladimir Putin at the G-20 summit. Trump believes it wouldn’t be appropriate meeting with Putin since Russia has refused to free the Ukrainian’s
ship crew members.
According to Ukraine’s President, Petro Poroshenko, the measures are taken “in order to prevent the Russian Federation from forming private armies” on Ukrainian soil.
On Friday, the Ukrainian intelligence agency also announced that they are already investigating a senior cleric of the Russian Orthodox Church. They had immediately conducted a search of the cleric’s home to see if they could find any indication that would suggest sabotage.
When accosted by journalists, Ihor Guskov, chief of staff of the SBU intelligence agency, said they are searching the home of Father Pavlo, the leader of the Pechersk Monastery in Kiev, they suspected that cleric is “inciting hatred.”
It should be noted that the Pechersk Monastery, which is the spiritual center of Ukraine, is located under the jurisdiction of the Russian Orthodox Church.
The Ukrainian church has been an integral part of the Russian Orthodox Church for centuries until earlier this year when a conflict with Russia Ukraine’s Orthodox communities began to fuel the idea of the Ukrainian church forming an independent church.
Currently, there are three Orthodox communities in Ukraine, and these include two breakaway churches. Ukrainian authorities have been portraying the Russian Orthodox clerics in Ukraine as secretly holding up for separatists.
On Thursday, November 29, Ukraine’s President announced that a decree granting the Ukrainian Orthodox Church independence from the Russian Orthodox Church has been approved by the Constantinople patriarchy. This a major boost to the president’s approval ratings.
However, both the Russian Orthodox Church and Russian authorities are strongly against the move. Therefore, they have warned Ukraine not to go ahead with the process, afraid such a move could lead to sectarian violence.