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Prayers urged as Ukraine-Russia tensions escalate

by Premier Journalist

Christians are being urged to pray for peace in Ukraine as international tensions escalate.

Pope Francis has called for a world day of prayer for the eastern European country, which has unwanted Russian troops amassing at its border.

The worldwide Catholic leader made the announcement yesterday and appealed for dialogue to defuse the crisis during his weekly address to pilgrims and tourists in St. Peter's Square.

The world is watching as urgent talks between US and Russian diplomats have so far failed to reach a resolution.

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken warned on Friday of a "swift, severe" response if Russia invades Ukraine, according to Reuters news agency. Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said Moscow was still waiting for a written response to its demands for security guarantees, it added.

The Pope said: "I am following with concern the rising tensions that threaten to deliver a new blow to peace in Ukraine and put the security of Europe in doubt, with even more vast repercussions." He appealed to "all people of good will" to pray next Wednesday so that all political initiatives will "be for the service of human fraternity" rather than partisan interests.

The European Methodist Council also voiced its concern about the crisis, calling for a peaceful way forward and invited Methodist, Wesleyan and Uniting churches around Europe to pray for unity and peace, especially during this week of prayer for Christian unity.

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