Ukraine and Russia step up a confrontation, and the US is not a bystander

Photo credit: St. Louis Post-Dispatch

Moscow (CNN)In Europe, a shadow conflict is capturing headlines: The Salisbury poisonings and the unmasking of alleged Russian agents in the Netherlands suggest a return to Cold War-style spy games between Russia and the West.

In Ukraine, the picture is more stark. A hot war is continuing in the eastern Donbas region, and the conflict between Moscow and Kiev appears set to escalate.

The latest flashpoint? Ukraine’s bid for greater spiritual independence from Russia.

On Monday, the Russian Orthodox Church broke ties with the Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople, the titular head of Orthodox Christianity, after Ukraine secured approval last week to establish an independent Orthodox church.

That move drew immediate condemnation from Russia, which said the decision set the stage for a potential split within the global Orthodox community.

On Friday, Russian President Vladimir Putin presided over a meeting of his Security Council on the matter.

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