In an emotional Christmas message, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has offered courage to people suffering under Russia’s war and called on them to persevere. “We have endured attacks, threats, nuclear blackmail, terror and missile strikes. Let us get through this winter because we know what we are fighting for,” Zelensky said in a video circulated on Christmas Eve. In the video, he was standing in the dark on the street with a Christmas tree and sparse lights in the background. “We believe that tears will give way to joy, that hope will come after despair and death will be defeated by life,” Zelensky said. Millions of people in Ukraine and around the world are celebrating Christmas, he said. The president recalled Ukrainians who have fled abroad or have to spend Christmas in Russian captivity. “We will bring back to all Ukrainian women and men their freedom.” Following Russian attacks on the country’s energy infrastructure, streets and houses may not shine as brightly as usual this year, Zelensky said. But no Russian drone or missile could break the spirit of Christmas, he added. “And even in total darkness, we will find each other to hug tightly. And if there is no heating, we will warm ourselves with a big hug,” Zelensky said. “We will not wait for a miracle, we will do it ourselves.” In Ukraine, both December 25 is an official Christmas Day and January 7, when Orthodox Christians celebrate. According to surveys, the Russian war is causing more people to turn to the celebratory culture of Western churches. 3 emergency workers killed demining Ukraine’s Kherson Three Ukrainian emergency services workers were killed on Saturday when a mine exploded while they were demining parts of the Kherson region, said the emergency service of another region, in which they served. “All three selflessly served in the emergency and rescue squad of the Special Purpose Unit of the State Department of Ukraine in Zhytomyr region and performed the task of demining territories liberated from the enemy in the Kherson region,” the Zhytomyr emergency service said on its Facebook page. The Zhytomyr region is west of Kyiv, in northern Ukraine. Russia, which invaded Ukraine 10 months ago, controls most but not all of Kherson region. By mid-November, Ukrainian forces retook Kherson city – the region’s administrative centre – and a number of settlements in the region. Zelensky blasts Russian ‘terror’ after Kherson city shelling Explosive experts have worked there since, after President Volodymyr Zelensky said that Russian forces had heavily mined buildings and objects. They have also done so in many other areas that Ukraine has been able to retake. The US State Department estimated in early December that some 160,000 square kilometres (62,000 square miles) of Ukrainian land needed to be checked for explosives hazards. That is nearly half the size of Germany’s land area. “We expect this to be one of the largest landmine and unexploded ordinance challenges since World War II,” the State Department said in a briefing posted on its website. On Saturday, Ukrainian authorities said a Russian strike had killed at least 10 people in the Kherson City, while Moscow blamed Ukrainian forces for the attack.