Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskiy with French Foreign Minister Foreign Minister Stéphane Séjourné, Kyiv, January 13, 2024

Saturday’s Coverage: The UK’s Security Agreement With Kyiv

Map: Institute for the Study of War


Denmark has pledged more than $21 million for the restoration of the city of Nikolaev in southern Ukraine.

The funds will support projects such as the demining of agricultural land and the reconstruction of the dormitory of the Nikolaev State Agrarian University.

Denmark and Sweden have also announced a new package of military assistance for Ukraine, including infantry fighting vehicles, worth about €240 million ($263 million).


A former mayor of Vladivostok in eastern Russia, sentenced to 12 years in prison in 2023 for taking bribes, has been released from prison to serve in the Russian military in Ukraine.

A lawyer for Oleg Gumenyuk said Sunday that the former mayor’s whereabouts at the moment are unknown.

Gumenyuk signed a contract with the military in late 2023. A former deputy governor of the Khakasia region in southern Siberia, Sergey Novikov, and a former mayor of the far eastern city of Bolshoi Kamen, Rustyam Abushayev — both serving prison terms for corruption — have also been freed to go to Ukraine.


The Russian Orthodox Church is expelling a prominent priest because he refused to recite a prayer asking God to guide Russia to victory over Ukraine.

A church court declared on Saturday said Aleksiy Uminsky should be “expelled from holy orders” for allegedly violating his priestly oath. The decision has been sent for approval by Patriarch Kirill, the head of the church and a fervent proponent of Vladimir Putin’s invasion.

The prayer was first said from the pulpit by Kirill on September 25, 2022:

Behold, those who want to fight have taken up arms against Holy Rus, hoping to divide and destroy its united people.

Arise, O God, to help your people and grant us victory through your power.

Uminsky served for 30 years as senior priest at the Church of the Life-Giving Holy Trinity in Moscow before he was suddenly fired just before Orthodox Christmas on January 7. He was highly-regarded for his hospice work for dying children and adults, and led the funeral for former Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev in 2022.

Uminsky said last November that the language of war and Putin’s “special military operation” was “in no way compatible” with church liturgy. He encouraged believers to seek out priests who “pray more for peace than for victory and understand that any victory is always a pyrrhic victory in these wars….In modern wars any victory is almost always equivalent to self-destruction.”

ORIGINAL ENTRY: France has followed the Baltic States and the UK in this week’s substantial military commitments to Ukraine.

On Saturday, during a visit by French Foreign Minister Stephane Sejourne to Kyiv, the two countries agreed to “scale up” their defense cooperation.

They also discussed Ukraine’s integration into the European Union and NATO and the tightening of sanctions against Russia, with Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba posting:

Sejourne spoke of addressing EU and bilateral legal issues to help French companies set up more military production facilities in Ukraine and to invest in transport, energy, telecommunications, and water in the country.

Zelenskiy added, after his meeting with the French Foreign Minister:

Overcoming Blockades on Aid

On Wednesday and Thursday, the Baltic States — Lithuania, Estonia, and Latvia — announced military aid packages including armored personnel carriers, howitzers, 155mm ammunition, anti-tank weapons, missiles, helicopters, and drones. Estonia pledged 0.25% of its GDP over the next four years.

On Friday, the UK and Ukraine signed a 10-year security pact during British Minister Rishi Sunak’s visit to Kyiv.

The surge in European commitments is a pointed response to the blockades of aid to Kyiv by Republicans in the US Congress and by Hungary’s Prime Minister Viktor Orbán, a long-time ally of Vladimir Putin, within the EU.

The EU is developing alternatives if Orbán continues to hold up the €50 billion fund for Ukraine through 2027.

During his tour of the Baltic States, Zelenskiy expressed hope that the Republican blockade in the US will be lifted.

A group of hard-right Republicans and Trumpists prevented passage in October of $60.6 billion in budgetary authority for the defense of Ukraine against Russia’s 22 1/2-month invasion. Senate Republicans then effectively blackmailed the Biden Administration by linking the assistance to draconian measures against migrants and asylum seekers.