Ukraine is officially marking Christmas on 25 December for the first time today – after it continued to fend off Russian drone attacks overnight.

Traditionally, Ukrainians have celebrated on 7 January, in line with the Russian Orthodox Church.

But in July, President Volodymyr Zelenskyy signed legislation moving the Christmas holiday to 25 December.

On Sunday, Mr Zelenskyy addressed the nation in a video clip filmed outside St Sophia Cathedral in central Kyiv.

He said: “Step by step, day by day, the darkness is losing”.

“Today, this is our common goal, our common dream. And this is precisely what our common prayer is for today. For our freedom. For our victory. For our Ukraine,” he added.

On the front line, soldiers have been gifted Christmas dinner, with religious leaders visiting in some areas to give services.

Read more:
Russia bars anti-war election candidate
Experts consider scenarios for war in 2024

Religious and political leaders, including the Pope, have called for a stop to the conflict in Ukraine as part of their Christmas messages.

Overnight, the Ukrainian military said it shot down 28 of 31 Russian drones and both missiles fired over the country.

They were launched over Kherson, Mykolaiv, Donetsk, Kirovohrad, and Khmelnytskyi, according to the Ukrainians.

On Sunday, five people were killed as a result of Russian fire in Kherson and one other in the eastern town of Horlivka.

President Volodymyr Zelenskyy during his Christmas message

Christma service in Ukraine on Christmas Eve
Christma service in Ukraine on Christmas Eve

Russia claims it has ‘upper hand’ on weapons

Meanwhile in Russia, deputy prime minister Denis Manturov has claimed the Kremlin has the upper hand on weapons production.

Please use Chrome browser for a more accessible video player

What you might’ve missed about the conflict this year

“I don’t want to boast, but I can say that we began to gain and picked up the pace of production earlier than Western countries,” he told the RIA news agency.

“Another question is how long this race will last,” he added, saying that a 2025-2034 armament plan is due to be approved this year.

President Vladimir Putin and his defence secretary Sergei Shoigu have already said that production of artillery, drones, tanks, and armoured vehicles is increasing.