The Russian Orthodox Church's 'Holy War' on Ukraine

Written by Henrik Rothen

Mar.31 - 2024 1:15 PM CET

Photo: Wiki Commons
Photo: Wiki Commons
The Russian Orthodox Church Moscow Patriarchate has announced a "holy war" against Ukraine.

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The Russian Orthodox Church Moscow Patriarchate (ROC MP), wielding considerable influence within Russia's power structures, has recently cast the conflict in Ukraine in dramatically new terms.

Through a significant document approved at the World Russian People’s Council, the church has declared Russia’s military involvement in Ukraine a "holy war" and articulated a vision that intertwines religious fervor with nationalist ideology.

According to ISW, this development indicates a strategic alignment of the church's spiritual authority with the Kremlin's geopolitical ambitions, suggesting a potent fusion of religion and state policy aimed at consolidating Russian identity and territorial aspirations.

Unveiling a Holy War Against Ukraine

The declaration of a "holy war" marks a bold escalation in the rhetoric surrounding Russia's actions in Ukraine, diverging sharply from the Kremlin's previous narratives.

This framing not only sanctifies the conflict but also positions it as a pivotal moment in the defense of "Holy Russia" against the encroachments of globalism and perceived moral degradation emanating from the West.

By doing so, the ROC MP elevates the war from a political to a spiritual crusade, implicating a divine mandate in the geopolitical struggle.

Crafting a Russian World

Central to the church's vision is the promotion of the Russkiy Mir, or Russian World, a concept that extends beyond mere nationalism to invoke a spiritual and cultural community that transcends borders.

This vision seeks to absorb ethnic Ukrainians and Belarusians into a grand narrative of Russian unity, challenging the sovereignty and distinct identities of neighboring states.

Through legislative and cultural advocacy, the ROC MP aims to codify this expansive notion of Russian identity, reinforcing the Kremlin's long-term objectives of regional dominance and the erosion of Ukrainian statehood.

Addressing Demographic and Cultural Shifts

Amid concerns over Russia's demographic trajectory, the ROC MP has laid out an ambitious agenda aimed at revitalizing the Russian population.

The church's call for a return to traditional family values and a revision of migration policies reflects a broader strategy to combat population decline and integrate a homogenous Russian identity.

These recommendations underscore the church's role in shaping social policy, aiming to mold a society that reflects its vision of moral and cultural purity.

A New Ideological Framework

The ROC MP's efforts to define the conflict in Ukraine as a holy war and to promote a unified Russian identity represent a strategic attempt to craft a cohesive ideological framework that supports the Kremlin's ambitions.

This framework not only seeks to legitimize the war but also to rally the Russian people around a narrative of national rejuvenation and spiritual destiny. In doing so, the church is positioning itself as a central architect of Russia's national consciousness, blending religious authority with political power.

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