Ukraine retakes a Kharkiv region village and inches closer towards Russian border

Russian Orthodox Patriarch Kirill celebrates the Easter service in the Christ the Savior Cathedral in Moscow, Russia, on April 19, 2020. (Oleg Varov/Russian Orthodox Church Press Service/AFP/Getty Images)

The head of the Russian Orthodox Church, Patriarch Kirill, is among the individuals who will be included in the proposed sixth round of European Union sanctions, according to two sources who have seen the full documents. 

The proposed draft has been sent to the corresponding ambassadors for review, the sources said. 

At this stage, names can be taken off or added at member state discretion, an EU Commission source said. 

On Wednesday, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen proposed a raft of measures that also include a ban on Russian oil. 

In an interview this week, Pope Francis slammed Kirill for endorsing Russia’s stated reasons for invading Ukraine, warning him to not become “Putin’s altar boy.”

In response, the Russian Orthodox Church said Pope Francis had used the “wrong tone” in characterizing his meeting with Patriarch Kirill and called the Pope’s comments “regrettable.”

“Such declarations do not contribute to establishing a constructive dialogue between the Roman Catholic Church and the Russian Orthodox Church which is particularly necessary at this time,” declared the Department of External Relations of the Russian Patriarchate in a statement.

What Russia is saying: The sanctions are out of touch with “common sense,” Russian Orthodox Church spokesperson Vladimir Legoida said Wednesday, according to Russian state news agency TASS. 

“The more indiscriminate [these] sanctions become, the more they lose touch with common sense and the harder it becomes to reach peace, which is what the Russian Orthodox Church prays for at every service with the blessing of His Holiness the Patriarch, and assistance to all those affected by the Ukrainian conflict, only serve to affirm his words,” Legoida said in a Telegram post. 

“Only those completely ignorant of the history of our Church can seek to intimidate its clergy and believers by compiling some lists,” Legoida said. 

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