Live updates: follow the latest news on Russia-Ukraine
Christ’s message that good will triumph over evil will resonate even more this year amid the backdrop of the war in Ukraine, Boris Johnson has said.
Delivering his Easter message in a video on Twitter, the UK prime minister paid tribute to “the Christians of Ukraine, whether they’re marking Easter today, or its Orthodox equivalent later this month, for whom Christ’s message of hope, the triumph of life over death and good over evil, will resonate this year, perhaps more than any other”.
Speaking in Ukrainian, and referencing a Psalm, Mr Johnson said: “Be strong and have courage in your heart, you all who trust in the Lord.
“Easter tells us that there is light beyond the darkness, that beyond the suffering lies redemption.”
During his Easter sermon, The Archbishop of Canterbury also made reference to the conflict.
“Ukrainians have woken up to the end of the world as they knew it,” said Justin Welby.
“Now they are awakened by the noises of war, and the sickening reality of terror. They wake up to mortal fear.”
He later said: “Let this be a time for Russian ceasefire, withdrawal and a commitment to talks.
“This is a time for resetting the ways of peace, not for what Bismarck called blood and iron. Let Christ prevail. Let the darkness of war be banished.”
Mr Johnson was among senior British politicians the Kremlin has barred from entering Russia.
The Prime Minister, Foreign Secretary Liz Truss, Defence Secretary Ben Wallace, Justice Secretary Dominic Raab, and former PM Theresa May are among those on the list, published by Russia’s foreign ministry.
In a statement, it said the move was in response to the “unprecedented hostile actions of the British government, expressed, in particular, in the imposition of sanctions against top officials” in Russia.
“The Russophobic course of action of the British authorities, whose main goal is to stir up negative attitude toward our country, curtailing of bilateral ties in almost all areas, are detrimental to the wellbeing and interests of the residents of Britain. Any sanctions attack will inevitably backfire on their initiators and receive a decisive rebuff,” it said.
A UK government representative said: “The UK and our international partners stand united in condemning the Russian government’s reprehensible actions in Ukraine and calling for the Kremlin to stop the war. We remain resolute in our support for Ukraine.”
Mr Johnson spoke to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy on Saturday afternoon.
“The prime minister paid tribute to the bravery of Ukrainian forces who continue to valiantly defend their country’s freedom,” said a Downing Street representative.
“The pair discussed the need for a long-term security solution for Ukraine, and the prime minister said he would continue to work closely with allies and partners to ensure Ukraine could defend its sovereignty in the weeks and months to come.
“The prime minister updated President Zelenskyy on new sanctions from the UK that came into force last week, and said the UK would continue to provide the means for Ukraine to defend itself, including armoured vehicles, in the coming days.
“The prime minister said international support for Ukraine only grew stronger and that he remained convinced Ukraine would succeed and that Putin would fail.”
The UK Ministry of Defence has said Russia’s ultimate objective remains the same despite its “operational focus” shift to eastern Ukraine.
“It is committed to compelling Ukraine to abandon its Euro-Atlantic orientation and asserting its own regional dominance,” it said on Sunday.
UK government figures show that as of last Monday, about 16,400 people had arrived in the country under one of two visa schemes open to Ukrainians.
About 13,200 had arrived under the Ukraine family scheme and 3,200 under the Homes for Ukraine sponsorship scheme, provisional data showed.
Transport Secretary Grant Shapps tweeted on Sunday to say the family he was sponsoring had arrived.
About 94,700 applications have been received for both visas, 56,500 of which had been granted by Thursday, said the Home Office and the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities.