Metropolitan Epifaniy elected to head unified Orthodox Church of Ukraine

KYIV – A more apt location couldn’t have been chosen to elect the leader of the newly established Orthodox Church of Ukraine on December 15. 

As thousands of worshipers stood outside in central Kyiv braving sub-zero temperatures, 192 delegates of the Unification Synod (Council) assembled inside, in the five-naved core beneath the ancient towering domes of St. Sophia Cathedral. 

IMF approves loan of $3.9 B for Ukraine

The International Monetary Fund has approved a new $3.9 billion loan agreement for Ukraine – a small victory for President Petro Poroshenko ahead of the presidential election next year.

The fund’s decision, announced on December 18, includes a first installment of $1.4 billion that is expected by December 25. The fund’s board said decisions about the next remaining two installments would come in May and November.

Azov Sea, Kerch Strait: Evolution of their purported legal status

Russia perpetrated acts of war against Ukraine in the Kerch Strait and the adjacent portion of the Black Sea on November 25 (see Eurasia Daily Monitor, November 26, 28 and 29). Moreover, during the preceding months, Russia had systematically and aggressively obstructed Ukrainian and international shipping in the Sea of Azov (see EDM, February 22, April 12, May 22 and 31, June 11 and 28, November 6).

Russia says “no” to OSCE monitors in Azov Sea and Kerch Strait

Russia has rejected the German government’s proposal to deploy monitors of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) to the Azov Sea and Kerch Strait. The mission would have been tasked with monitoring shipping in those two bodies of water and reporting on interference with freedom of navigation (see Eurasia Daily Monitor, December 3, 5, 10).

Lessons from Germany’s failed proposal on the Azov Sea and the Kerch Strait

German Chancellor Angela Merkel has offered a sanitized account of the failed “Normandy” meeting (Russia, Ukraine, Germany, France) that discussed the crisis in the Azov Sea and Kerch Strait. The meeting was held in Berlin on December 11 in almost complete secrecy (see article above), and a visibly disappointed head of the German government provided a glimpse into it on the following day, in her regular (pre-scheduled) questions-and-answers session in the Bundestag (DPA, December 12).

Quotable notes

“…The energy security of our European partners and allies has been a longstanding strategic priority for the United States, and, given Russia’s aggression in recent days, this is a good time to spotlight our diplomacy on transatlantic energy security.

CANADEM recruiting long-term electoral observers

OTTAWA – On December 6, Canada’s Minister of Foreign Affairs Chrystia Freeland and Minister of International Development Marie-Claude Bibeau announced up to $24 million in support for Ukraine’s democracy ahead of the 2019 election cycle in Ukraine.

January 6, 1991

Twenty-seven years ago, on January 6, 1991, Patriarch Mstyslav issued a Nativity Epistle as primate of a united Ukrainian Autocephalous Orthodox Church.  

As Ukraine was on the eve of its own political independence and as the world watched the onset of the collapse of the Soviet Union, Patriarch Mstyslav stated:

Metropolitan Epifaniy, the unifier

On December 15 – a date that will go down in the history of Ukraine and the Ukrainian people – the spiritual divorce between Russia and Ukraine came one step closer to being finalized and another nail sealed the coffin of Russian influence on the Orthodox Church in Ukraine.