Russia announced it would deploy some ten fighter aircraft to Crimea on Monday, December 17, amid rising tensions with Ukraine over a recent altercation near the Kerch Strait (Black Sea) and Ukraine's recent decision to split from the Russian Orthodox Church. Protests are possible throughout Ukraine in the coming days and weeks to denounce this military deployment. A heightened security presence and localized transportation disruptions are to be expected near demonstration sites. Additional military altercations between Russian and Ukrainian forces are possible over the near term.
Tensions have been particularly high between Russia and Ukraine since Russian forces opened fire on three Ukrainian navy ships in the Black Sea near the Kerch Strait on November 25. On November 28, martial law was implemented in eastern and central Ukraine in response to these events.
On October 11, the Ecumenical Patriarch approved Ukraine's request to form an independent church, thus splitting from the Russian Orthodox Church. Both the Russian Orthodox Church and the Kiev Patriarchate, which has advocated 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 the region are advised to monitor developments to the situation and adhere to all instructions issued by the local authorities. Due to the ongoing conflict, many Western governments advise against travel to the far east of Ukraine, including the cities of Donetsk, Horlivka, Makiyivka, and Luhansk.
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