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Church

After 330 years of Russian control, Ukraine finally establishes its own Orthodox church – writes Belgian newspaper De Knack. “This is a historic moment and a wonderful day.” – the publication cites President Petro Poroshenko. This goes against Russian accusations of Petro Poroshenko using the autocephaly to put himself at an advantage in the upcoming elections.

If belief and politics are interlinked, then belief, which should be held above all else by the church pales in comparison with the political attention this autocephaly is receiving – judges a prominent Belgian publication De Trouw. Journalists acknowledge that Ukrainians have wanted, for a long time, an independent church and that the annexation of Crimea and the war in the East gave further incentive in establishing this church. But, “with Belief and theology – this has little in common” – surmise the Journalists. Petro Poroshenko claims, that “the establishment of an independent church will strengthen the army, protect Ukrainian language and serve as a foothold for Ukrainian membership in NATO and the EU.” Russian anger in regards to this independence is so great that the church of Moscow no longer acknowledges the authority of Bartholomew. Ostensibly, one could say that the Russian church is separating itself from other orthodox churches – summarizes the publication.

One of the biggest conflicts in the history of Christianity will start once the Ukrainian Orthodox church gains formal independence – a step which will contribute to the tensions in the region – writes The Guardian. The recognition of an autonomous church by Constantinople uplifts President Petro Poroshenko’s position as he is faced with fierce opposition in the May elections. He (Poroshenko or Bartholomew?) supports the autocephaly as means of countering Russian influence in Ukraine.

Kyiv claims that support for the Moscow church in Ukraine is a tool for Kremlin to spread propaganda and support the separatists, which has already resulted in the deaths of 10,000 people. Churches prohibit this.

In a rather heated article in regards to the formation of an Ukrainian church, The Guardian, in its weekly series writes that “Russia and Ukraine are taking this fight from Earth to the Sky.” And even though the Moscow patriarchate is a ruling oligarchy, Ukrainian churches are also not free from political influences – acknowledges the publication. “Conflict – as regards to who gives weapons to which army. But from the moment when it concerns the will of soldiers to go to war and die, this creates meaning for millions, who have no interest in theology whatsoever (Maybe the actual quote will sound better) – acknowledges the publication.

The long lasting conflict in regards to Orthodoxy became ever so heated in the last year, mostly, due to the annexation of Crimea by Russia and the conflict in the East – writes De Spiegel, a German publication. Nevertheless, despite the protests from Moscow, Constantinople recognized the independence of the Ukrainian Orthodox church.

The publication also mentioned President Petro Poroshenko’s alleged plans to separate the Ukrainian church from Moscow in order to bolster his success in the upcoming elections. At the end of March, a new President will be elected and Poroshenko hopes that this fight for an independent church will increase his chances of winning.

The publication ends with a statement that the Russian Orthodox church does not recognize the independence of the Ukrainian church.

Sanctions

“Sanctions against companies that work on the Nord Stream 2 are still possible” – states the US Ambassador to Germany, Richard Grenell, according to Die Presse. Citing professionals circles, the publication reveals that sanctions should be applied to those companies that are a certain “Neurological point”, in other words “you cannot find an adequate replacement for them”.

Nord Stream 2 is supposed to start transporting Russian gas across the Baltic sea to Germany from the end of 2019. The project is supported by European energy companies, but also Russia’s state “Gazprom”. The construction has already started. The US President Donald Trump has warned on multiple occasions that Germany would be fully dependent on Russian energy. He accuses Germans in that they pay billions for the supply of Russian gas, while at the same time they rely on the US as a means of protection against Russia. In this the publication sees that in both the interest of Washington and Merkel, some circles in Berlin and Brussels are just looking for a market on gas, but due to high costs for the transportation across the Atlantic, the purchasing of American gas is simply impractical.

Brussels publication, EU Observer, writes that some in Merkel’s party have already asked the American Ambassador about potential sanction, in an unusual diplomatic gesture. Furthermore, the publication cites Grenell, who wrote a public letter to two German companies involved in financing the pipeline – Uniper and Wintershall. In it he states that the construction of Nord Stream 2 will mean the “obtainment of a key strategic point of interest for Russia, that would undermine Ukrainian and European security.” This would also allow for Moscow to reduce the delivery of gas across the Baltic countries and Poland as a means of political blackmail – believes the Ambassador.

The Ambassador of the EU in the US David O’Sullivan and a number of other high diplomats support the US Department of Finance in taking off the sanctions list the Russian aluminum giant, Rusal – that belongs to a Russian oligarch with connection to Vladimir Putin – writes Politico, a Brussels publication. In a letter to the head of the Democratic party the diplomats note that due to sanctions, the price of aluminum rose by 20%, and this increase put many big European companies on the brink. Thus, the easing of sanctions against Rusal will save the already existing connection and provide 75,000 jobs – cites the publication. Sanctions imposed against the Russian oligarch and his company were actually implemented in the summer of last year, as a reaction towards the meddling of Russia in the American Presidential elections. Subsequently, the US Senate supported the decision for easing the sanctions.

Russia is responsible for the attack on the Skripals and the EU no longer doubts this. For the first time in history, Brussels implements sanctions against the use of chemical weapons. 4 Russians were blacklisted and deemed guilty for the poisoning in Salisbury, as well as 11 Syrians close to the regime of Bashar Al Assad were named – writes The Guardian and a number of other European publications. To the list were added the head of the Russian Military Intelligence (previous GRU) Igor Kostyukov, his deputy Vladimir Alexeev, and those responsible for the attack – Ruslan Boshirov and Alexander Petrov. The publication cites the words of the European External Action Service head Federica Mogherini, who is certain that Brussels has iron arguments in response to such action.

Trump (The USA)

In regards to the 2 year presidency of Donald Trump, a new wave of publication has appeared on the topic: Is Trump working for Putin? In 2016, the FBI began an investigation in regards to whether the President realized that his actions benefit Russia, or was he just doing it unintentionally. In other words, was there a connection between Trump and Putin.

“An even bigger question is the relationship between Trump and Putin” – writes NRC Handelsblad, a Dutch publication. “On the 8thof January, Muller writes to the court that the former head of Trump’s election committee, Paul Manafort, shared confidential information with a connection from Ukraine. This man, writes Muller, had links to the Russian intelligence – he had them in 2016.” The publication notes that during the time of his presidency, Trump met with Putin 5 times, each time without formal disclosure. There is more. According to Buzz Feed, Trump forced his lawyer, Michel Cohen to lie to congress about Trump’s construction project in Russia. The publication gives attention to the words of a senator from Texas – Castro, who says that if this information is true, Trump must resign from office.

Russia denies that Trump is its agent – writes Politico, a Brussels publication. The author gives attention to the words to Putin’s advisor, Yuriy Ushakov, who says that is ridiculous. “How can a president of the US be an agent for our countries? Just think about it” – cites the publication.