The Ecumenical Patriarch approved Ukraine's request to form an independent church on Thursday, October 11, thus splitting from Russian Orthodox Church. Russia has widely criticized the decision. Associated protests, and potential clashes, are possible in Ukraine over the coming days and weeks.
Both the Russian Orthodox Church and the Kiev Patriarchate, which has striven for an independent Ukrainian Church, are established in Ukraine. Since the annexation of Crimea in 2014 and the escalation of conflict in the country's eastern regions, many in Ukraine consider the Russian Orthodox Church as a tool to spread the Kremlin's influence in the country.
Individuals in Ukraine are advised to avoid all protests as a precaution.
Due to the ongoing conflict, many Western governments advise against travel to Donetsk and Luhansk provinces, in particular, the cities of Mariupol, Donetsk, Makiyivka, Horlivka, Debaltseve, and Luhansk, as well as areas along the Russian border. The Ukrainian government has declared that foreigners entering Ukraine from Russia through rebel-controlled territory will not be allowed through any checkpoints into government-controlled territory.
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