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Ukrainian Orthodox Church formally sheds Russian ties

Believers praying at the Michael's Golden-Domed Cathedral in Kiev in December. Photo: Pavlo Gonchar/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

The Ukrainian Orthodox Church formally split from the Russian church on Saturday in a signing ceremony in Turkey, the Associated Press reports.

Why it matters: As Alex Kliment of GZERO Media notes, "[t]his is a spiritual matter with distinctly worldly implications." The new split will make Ukrainian clerics "pick sides between the Moscow-backed Ukrainian churches and the new church," while fighting continues between Ukrainian and Russian forces, AP reports.

Go deeper: Political stakes high in Russia-Ukraine church split