The heads of the major church denominations in the UK have encouraged Christians to pray for Ukrainians this Christmas who have faced a difficult year due to the Russian invasion.
A Christmas Eve statement by the Presidents of Churches Together in England (CTE) said: “At Christmastime, Christians have a special reason to pray for those caught up in violence and driven from their homes by conflict. Our Saviour’s family were themselves refugees in Egypt, led by the Spirit to escape Herod’s persecution, cut off from their home and community, and no doubt travelling in great fear. As Presidents of Churches Together in England, we call to mind the suffering of the people of Ukraine this terrible winter as the unjust Russian invasion continues.
"We urge Christians everywhere to continue to stand in prayerful solidarity with the people and churches of Ukraine and to support them in their hour of need. We also hold in prayer all those displaced and suffering the effects of war and oppression. As we prepare to celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ and his love, justice and peace, we wish the people of Ukraine – and all people – a chance to celebrate in peace the coming of our Lord into this world of need.”
The message is signed by the Archbishop of Canterbury, the Cardinal Archbishop of Westminster, the Free Churches Moderator, the Archbishop of the Oecumenical Patriarchate and the National Overseer of the Church of God of Prophecy UK.
The CTE’s Fourth Presidency Group comprising of Lutheran, Quaker and The Church of Scotland (English Presbytery) Member Churches was also represented in the statement.
It comes after President Vladimir Putin told Russia's defence industry chiefs on Friday to up their game to ensure that the Russian army quickly got all the weapons, equipment and military hardware it needed to fight in Ukraine.
Putin, who has cast Russia's war in Ukraine as part of an historic effort to push back against what he says is excessive Western influence over global affairs, made the comments during a visit to Tula, a centre for arms manufacturing.
Meanwhile, a top Ukrainian presidential aide called for the "liquidation" of Iranian factories making drones and missiles, as well as the arrest of their suppliers, as Kyiv accused Tehran of planning to supply more weapons to Russia.
Writing on Twitter on Saturday, Ukrainian presidential aide Mykhailo Podolyak said Iran "blatantly humiliates the institution of international sanctions", before calling for the destruction of Iranian weapon factories in response.
Kyiv has accused Tehran of supplying 1700 Shahed-136 loitering munitions to Moscow, which it says have been used to hit targets in Ukraine since September. Iran denies the allegations.
(Additional reporting by Reuters)