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U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Sunday recalled Washington's efforts to confront Russia on multiple fronts, including on the issues of religious freedom.

"I made sure the U.S. supported international recognition of the Orthodox Church of Ukraine," Pompeo tweeted.

The Secretary of State added that Washington "helped the Metropolitan escape Russian influence."

Orthodox Church of Ukraine: Background

The Unification Council of members of the Ukrainian Orthodox churches in Kyiv on December 15, 2018, elected Metropolitan of Pereyaslavsky and Bila Tserkva from the then Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the Kyiv Patriarchate Epifaniy (also known as Epiphanius I) as head of the new local Orthodox Church in Ukraine.

Read alsoUkraine condemns Russian court move toward church eviction in occupied CrimeaOn January 6, 2019, Epifaniy, as Primate of the Orthodox Church of Ukraine and Metropolitan of Kyiv and All Ukraine, received from Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I in Istanbul the tomos of autocephaly (independence) of the Orthodox Church of Ukraine. Metropolitan of Kyiv and All Ukraine Epifaniy was inaugurated as Primate of the newly created Orthodox Church of Ukraine at Kyiv's Saint Sophia Cathedral on February 3.

Metropolitan Epifaniy has said the autocephaly of the Orthodox Church of Ukraine was being recognized by more local Orthodox churches despite pressure from the Russian Orthodox Church (ROC). The latest recognition came from the Orthodox Church of Cyprus.

One of the forms of Kremlin pressure on Ukraine is through promoting the idea of a "Russian Orthodox Church", Ukraine's intelligence chief Valeriy Kondratiuk said. To this end, Russia employs a wide range of tools "to hinder the process of formation of the Orthodox Church of Ukraine, manipulating the feelings of Ukrainian believers and trying in every possible way to preserve its influence on them."