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The Hill's Pope blasts Russia’s ‘infantile’ war says:

Francis has to date avoided referring to Russia or Putin by name. But Saturday’s personalization of the powerful figure responsible marked a new level of outrage for the pope.

“Once again, some potentate, sadly caught up in anachronistic claims of nationalist interest, is provoking and fomenting conflicts, whereas ordinary people sense the need to build a future that will either be shared or not be at all,” he said.

The Vatican tends to not call out aggressors in hopes of keeping open options for dialogue. The Vatican, which in recent years has forged unprecedented new relations with the Putin-allied Russian Orthodox Church, had offered itself as a potential mediator but to date has been largely left on the diplomatic sidelines.

Francis told reporters en route to Malta that a possible visit to Kyiv was “on the table,” but no dates have been set or trip confirmed. The mayor of the Ukrainian capital had invited Francis to come as a messenger of peace along with other religious figures.

I originally wanted to ask if the Russian Orthodox Church has articulated any anti-war message with regard to the Russo-Ukrainian War since it started in 2014, but it is possible that one can guess an approximate answer from The Hill's use of "Putin-allied Russian Orthodox Church".

Nonetheless I would like to ask:

Question: How politically aligned with Moscow has the Russian Orthodox Church's position on the Russo-Ukrainian War been since it started in 2014?

One extreme would be that they are completely aligned and no light can be seen between the two, the other extreme might be for example more like that of the Pope that the substantial loss of life and destruction of a country can not be justified.

What do the facts tell us?

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    Patriarch Kirill is a close supporter of Putin. The LA Times and others have covered his recent statements about the invasion of Ukraine.
    – Brian Z
    Apr 2, 2022 at 20:39
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    There are differences between the Orthodox Christianity and the Catholicism - the two currents historically formed as a split over the Church influence over the state: in Catholicism Pope was a superior moral authority to Kings, single for all the Catholics. On the other hand Orthodox patriarchs were typically of national level and subject to the local ruler (e.g., Czar in Russia). Putin is not a part of the church hierarchy as the Czar was, but opposing him would be very much out of tradition - from the Orthodox viewpoint, it is simply not the Church's business to lecture to politicians. Apr 4, 2022 at 8:01

4 Answers 4

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Patriarch Kiril referred to the war in Ukraine as a "metaphysical" struggle against a godless international order. That sounds like a strong support, doesn't it?

On the other hand some other priests and deacons disagree with the patriarch.

We respect the God-given freedom of man, and we believe that the people of Ukraine should make their choice on their own, not at gunpoint, without pressure from the West or the East

Still, the official stance of Russian Orthodox Church is the patriarch's one, this is not a democracy.

This was about 2022 war. As for annexation of Crimea Patriach Kirill has adopted a neutral stance

Members of our Church in Ukraine hold different political views and beliefs and are standing today on the different sides of the barricade. The Church does not take sides in the political struggle. Its task is to take care of all those who have been exposed to violence

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The "Russian Orthodox Church" is not only a "critical enabler" for the invasion by providing religious cover and moral support to the armed invasion, but also has tightly co-operated with Russian Armed Forces and Special Services.


According to "Preliminary Lessons from Russia’s Unconventional Operations During the Russo-Ukrainian War, February 2022–February 2023" by Royal United Services Institute for Defence and Security Studies,

Source, PDF (highlight and splitting into shorter paragraphs mine)

Reference links discuss such support during the period before the full-scaled invasion that started on 24 February, 2022.

It is important to note that while the support apparatus was less important for Russia’s invasion plans, it persists and is a critical enabler of ongoing Russian activity on Ukrainian territory.

The one body of ideologically committed agents supporting the invasion was the Russian Orthodox Church. Beyond its efforts to support Russian information operations, its priests were widely recruited and run by the Russian special services [37] and their monasteries and churches used as safe houses for equipment and personnel. [38]

The use of religion as cover is not only a widely established method of the Russian special services but also creates its own protection mechanism because of the political sensitivities of state targeting of religious institutions.[39] For this reason, it took some time for the Ukrainian state to move to constrain the activities of these parts of Russia’s support apparatus even after the invasion. [40]

[37]. Irina Borogan and Andrei Soldatov, ‘Putin’s Security Forces Find God’, CEPA, 9 February 2023,
https://cepa.org/article/putins-security-forces-find-god/, accessed 9 February 2023.

[38]. Estonian Foreign Intelligence Service, ‘International Security and Estonia 2023’, 9 February 2023,
https://raport.valisluureamet.ee/2023/en/, accessed 9 February 2022.

[39]. Elisabeth Braw, God’s Spies: The Stasi’s Cold War Espionage Campaign Inside the Church (Grand Rapids, MI: William B Eerdmans Publishing Company, 2019).

[40]. This is why the Ukrainian government has moved to try to restrict the operations of the Russian Orthodox Church in Ukraine. See Dan Peleschuk and Max Hunder, ‘Ukraine to Prepare Law Banning Churches “Affiliated” with Russia’, Reuters, 2 December 2022.

The common chain of commandment

The Russian military doctrine assumes a very specific chain of commandment. Such tight co-operation would only be possible if and only if both Russian Armed Forces and Russian Orthodox Church had a common link within the chain of strategic commandment and subordination.

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    The source [38] makes extravagant claim about Russian Orthdox Church preparing armament caches in the wake of invasion without providing any further sources to that claim.
    – alamar
    Apr 4, 2023 at 23:00
  • @alamar, thanks for the downvote, it encourages addressing your objections. :) This post does not intend to certify the accuracy of information presented in referenced materials (namely, links on links). It makes a good-faith attempt to back my claims with a credible link (Royal United Services Institute for Defence and Security Studies, RUSI). If you find RUSI findings wrong, or you consider RUSI unreliable at all, it is your right. [1/2] Apr 5, 2023 at 0:17
  • @alamar Also, we already know your agenda from your answer. I must admit that your post is absolutely immune to criticism due to bad links because it contains no proof links at all. :) [2/2] Apr 5, 2023 at 0:18
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Dying In Ukraine 'Washes Away All Sins', as said by Patriarch Kirill

From this sentence looks like Russian Orthdox Church joins the combat on the Russia's side in the front of the informational warfare. This remains true regardless if indeed "God is on Russia’s side" or maybe not exactly.

Ukrainian Orthdox Church of Moscow Patriarchate is a subdivision of Russian Orthdox Church. The subdivision published a document attempting to distance themselves somewhat but the analysis of this document by experts of the canonical law shows that no, they do not really fully part of. The true independence would be specified by the term "автокефалия" that is not present in the document. Hence Meduza calls the document is "more pastoral than legal".

Hence the Church is not trusted by the official government of Ukraine and due that recently lost the Kyiv Monastery of the Caves that used to be rented to them for free by the state. Russian PR says this is a grave violation of religious freedom but the StopFake questions the view.

According to Sergei Chapnin, a senior fellow of Orthodox studies in New York, most of those with pro-Russian sympathies exist among the higher levels of this church. The Kremlin understands that in order to control the church, it’s enough to control its bishops (source).

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  • What you call true independence would make peace between Russian and Ukrainian religion in the future imposible.
    – convert
    Apr 5, 2023 at 11:43
  • Does not sound very Christian. After the war, when everything is more clear, they could just forgive each other and reunite.
    – Stančikas
    Apr 6, 2023 at 8:27
  • No the can´t and this is the reason Ukrainian Orthodox Church didn´t take this step.
    – convert
    Apr 6, 2023 at 11:33
  • Human is given free will so can just decide and forgive any sin. And what the God would think ... why not just leave to him.
    – Stančikas
    Apr 6, 2023 at 15:55
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In 2014, the largest church in Ukraine was УПЦ (МП), that is Ukrainian Orthdox Church of Moscow Patriarchate, a subdivision of Russian Orthdox Church. Since their Ukrainian branch was a sizable share of their whole operation, the Moscow Patriarchate was actually reluctant to do anything which would look unfriendly to Ukrainian state, which was tricky given the whole Crimea and Donbass affair.

They did not move Crimea over from Ukrainian to Russian church - I think it remains a part of Ukrainian church to this day, with the same Ukrainian top clergy who ran it before 2014.

Russian Orthdox Church was also reluctant to support pro-Russian rebels in Donbass, to the extent that Strelkov had to ask the overseas branch of Russian Orthdox Church to bless his military banners. Overseas branch of Russian Orthdox Church, called РПЦ(з) is still fairly autonomous since the times when Soviet rule tried to eradicate Russian Orthdox Church after the revolution.

In spite of that, Ukraine still did not consider УПЦ (МП) loyal enough, and under both Poroshenko and Zelensky the Ukrainian state would repeatedly try to hinder УПЦ (МП) in favour of other, smaller Ukrainian churches. This follows the same pattern of Russian, post-USSR institutions having significant predisposition towards Ukraine which is slowly drained following diplomatic crises between Russia and Ukraine.

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    Some references would be useful to improve this answer, even to Russian or Ukrainian-language sources.
    – Stuart F
    Apr 2, 2022 at 22:57
  • en.wikipedia.org/wiki/… primarily
    – alamar
    Apr 3, 2022 at 17:58
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    This answer says more about the Ukrainian orthodox church than about the Russian orthodox church, but I think the question was more about the Russian part of the orthodox church. Apr 3, 2022 at 20:40
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    Ukrainian Orthdox Church of Moscow Patriarchate is a subdivision of Russian Orthdox Church.
    – alamar
    Apr 3, 2022 at 20:51
  • I still found your answer informative with regards to the Russian Orthodox Church, thanks!
    – uhoh
    Apr 4, 2022 at 8:03

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