The Russian Defense Ministry, in turn, blamed Ukrainian “nationalist” troops for the fire at the Lavra Monastery in Svyatohirsk via Telegram.

“According to reports from local residents, incendiary ammunition was fired from a large-caliber machine gun mounted on a Ukrainian Kozak armored vehicle into the wooden walls of the dome room of the building,” the Russian Defense Ministry said in a Telegram message.

We responded well, far beyond expectations, to what Angela Merkel, after a long silence, described as a “barbaric war of aggression”. We have imposed severe and unprecedented economic sanctions, most recently the embargo on Russian oil, aimed at reducing Putin’s ability to finance his war. (…) But one thing shone out in the West’s response to Putin’s violent expansionism for its absence: a strong diplomatic initiative. Not that there wasn’t diplomacy. (…)Examples abound, both serious and improbable. They include the first telephone calls with Putin by Macron, Scholz, Draghi and Finnish President Niinistö, the attempts by Turkish Prime Minister Erdogan and Austrian Chancellor Nehammer, and those by former German Chancellor Gerhard Schröder. (…) There was no trace of a strong, influential player with strategic skills assuming full responsibility on the diplomatic front, in other words: setting a goal and pursuing it resolutely.