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The Ukrainian priests fighting for Putin Orthodox churches are hiding Russian weapons


December 6, 2022   5 mins

How many of Ukraine’s priests are working for Putin? The nation’s security services are determined to find out. Last month, the SBU raided a 1,000-year-old Orthodox Christian monastery in Kyiv looking for Russian citizens, cash, and pro-Russian literature. Priests at the Pechersk Lavra complex were hooked up to lie detectors and grilled for information. Officers searched for signs of undocumented Russian saboteurs.

The raid was part of a wider operation, aimed at countering suspected “subversive activities by Russian special services” in Orthodox churches. More than 350 buildings have been searched and 850 people questioned across Ukraine, from Rivne in the West to Odesa in the South. “We have to create conditions where no actors dependent on the aggressor state will have an opportunity to manipulate Ukrainians and weaken Ukraine from within,” President Zelenskyy said last Thursday. “We will never allow anyone to build an empire inside the Ukrainian soul.”

The Ukrainian Orthodox church formally split from Russia’s in 2019, but some churches and monasteries have remained loyal to Moscow — including Pechersk Lavra, previously the headquarters of the Russian-backed wing of the Ukrainian Orthodox church. Oleksandr, an SBU agent who attended the raid in Kyiv, tells me it was triggered by a video that showed churchgoers singing songs about the “Russian World” and celebrating the “awakening” of Russia. “A normal guy went to Pechersk Lavra to pray,” explains Oleksandr. “He started to notice how odd things are: the priest is openly supporting Russia; the congregation are singing songs praising Russia. He’s in shock so begins to film the scene. That’s what prompted this group of raids, but we have been aware of these churches for a long time.” But the SBU had to wait several months before launching any raids, so politically sensitive was the issue.

“We knew they were used to stash weapons and money, but even we were surprised by the amount of money we found,” he continued. “At the monastery in Sarny in Rivne we found many foreign currencies along with two million Ukrainian hryvnia. We also found a large amount of gold jewellery — crosses to be specific.”

Likewise, according to the SBU website, more than $100,000 in cash was found during the raids, along with pro-Russian literature and “likely citizens of the Russian federation”. SBU believes the money was used to pay pro-Russian locals for information helpful to Putin’s army.

Meanwhile, in the town of Vinnytsia, 260km south-west of Kyiv, an investigation is being carried out into the role of the church in preparing young people to fight for Russia in eastern Ukraine. Security sources claim that churches were used to cache weapons to help those who wished to act as saboteurs for Russia.

Ukraine’s operations on Russian loyalist churches have infuriated Moscow, with Kremlin spokesperson Dimitry Peshkov describing them as “waging a war on the Russian Orthodox Church”. Yet it is the Orthodox church that has helped Putin wage war on Ukraine. Since the liberation of occupied areas, shocking details have come to light. Those living in formerly occupied regions claim that priests paid locals sympathetic to Moscow for coordinates of potential targets and for the locations and movements of Ukrainian troops. They also claim that priests bribed corrupt local officials in the run-up to the Russian invasion.

This is not a new phenomenon. For years, the Orthodox church has been recruiting Russian sympathisers in eastern Ukraine. In Kyiv, Daniil, a 29-year-old lawyer from Lugansk — who asked that we do not use his surname as he still has family in the occupied region — said religious lessons were introduced in the east back in 2010. “They used this church to try and, I guess you’d say, radicalise people for Russia,” he said. “We had religious classes they wanted us to attend. The idea was they would fully integrate us to this propaganda, the perfect Russian society with its wonderful anti-Western morals. It was crazy. I never went.” Young people never did.

The church’s influence even extends to the battlefield. Russia, like so many invaders before it, claims to have God on its side. On a visit to the frontline in Donetsk in 2016, I saw icons being paraded around to freezing separatist soldiers in the trenches. (“I’d rather they brought bread,” one of them said after spending several seconds kissing the icon.) But it was never just about winning hearts and minds. Former FSB agent Igor Girkin — who last month was sentenced in the Hague to life in prison for shooting down Malaysian Airlines flight MH17 in Ukraine — described the monks from Sviatohirsk Lavra monastery as his “personal security” during his time commanding separatists in Donetsk in 2014. Many monks during that time were actively engaged in fighting.

The Russian church in Ukraine is not only helping to fight Putin’s war. It also plays a crucial part in Putin’s foreign policy, outlined in a 31-page “humanitarian policy” published last September, to create a “Russian World”: a region driven by Russian language, culture, and orthodoxy. The idea is to present Russia as the custodian of tradition, a fiery opponent to the soft, morally bankrupt West with its focus on gay rights and feminism. Here, conservative religious values are justification for Russian expansionism in Georgia, Ukraine and the Baltic States.

But Ukraine’s church has fought hard to free itself from the “Russian World”. In 1992, the Orthodox Church of Ukraine (OCU) was established as a new challenger to the historically Russian-affiliated church. And in 2018, the OCU requested full independence from the head of the global Orthodox Church, Patriarch Bartholomew of Constantinople. After several rejections, a final push from the former Ukrainian president Petro Poroshenko convinced the Patriarch that Ukraine’s church could indeed be free.

The separation infuriated Russia. An obedient Ukrainian congregation was central to its strategy for the “Russian World”. Two months after Russia’s February invasion, Ukraine’s pro-Russian church issued a statement describing the split as “one of the reasons” for the Kremlin’s latest invasion, and criticising “the erroneous religious policy of the presidency of P.O. Poroshenko and the destructive ideology of the so-called Orthodox Church of Ukraine”.

The OCU remains defiant, however. This year, many Ukrainian churches plan to celebrate Christmas on 25 December for the first time, in an act of protest. This is a radical move away from Russia and towards the West, given that most Orthodox churches celebrate Christmas on 7 January.

The war has cratered the Russian-backed church’s popularity. A 2020 survey by the Razumkov Centre found that 34% of Ukrainians were members of the main Orthodox church, while only 14% were members of Moscow’s patriarchate church. Since the Russian annexation of Crimea, Donetsk and Lugansk, many in the country have turned their back on the latter. Church attendance plummeted following the launch of Russia’s special “denazifying” military operation in Ukraine. “People become a bit more religious during war,” Daniil told me in Kyiv. “But I don’t think anyone would go to that church now — it’s a poison.”

“The Russian Church isn’t helping people here, they’re just creating problems,” says Andrii Tsarenko, a 21-year-old theology student and devout Baptist from Kharkiv, who I met on an overnight train. “The rules of Orthodox Churches are like corporations that stake out territory. It’s like Pepsi and Coca-Cola. Pepsi gets a slice of territory and Coca-Cola has theirs. The problem in Ukraine is the Russian Orthodox Church thinks Ukraine is its territory.”

The Church, instead of offering comfort, is seen as a relic of a time when Ukraine served Russia. As the country’s young people look forward to a pro-Western future, they reject the “Russian world” and its ideology. Like the SBU, whose raids are ongoing, they see the Church as just another arm of the Kremlin’s hybrid model of war. For Andrii, who remained in his native Kharkiv during the worst days of fighting, it has no place in modern Ukraine.

“They abandoned all their buildings when the Russians came. We had to take care of their congregation. They are aggressors attacking us because of the desires of one man. There is nothing Christian about their actions.”

***

Order your copy of UnHerd’s first print edition here. 


Norma Costello is an award-winning Irish journalist who has been covering Isis since 2014. 

normcos

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Jonas Moze
Jonas Moze
1 year ago

I hope this is not regarded as reporting by Unherd. It certainly is amazingly incendiary, if very vague and generalized in detail and proofs.

I was rather shocked to read this blanket calling a Church which has existed there Millennia spies and enemy combatants. I think this sort of writing may get a lot of people hurt.

So the concrete detail was money found in monasteries, and ”Writing’ and a song sung.

”Priests at the Pechersk Lavra complex were hooked up to lie detectors and grilled for information. Officers searched for signs of undocumented Russian saboteurs.”

”Oleksandr, an SBU agent who attended the raid in Kyiv, tells me it was triggered by a video that showed churchgoers singing songs about the “Russian World” and celebrating the “awakening” of Russia. “A normal guy went to Pechersk Lavra to pray,” explains Oleksandr. “He started to notice how odd things are: the priest is openly supporting Russia; the congregation are singing songs praising Russia. He’s in shock so begins to film the scene.”

”“At the monastery in Sarny in Rivne we found many foreign currencies along with two million Ukrainian hryvnia. We also found a large amount of gold jewellery — crosses to be specific.””

”Those living in formerly occupied regions claim that priests paid locals sympathetic to Moscow for coordinates of potential targets and for the locations and movements of Ukrainian troops. They also claim that priests bribed corrupt local officials in the run-up to the Russian invasion.”

”The Russian church in Ukraine is not only helping to fight Putin’s war. It also plays a crucial part in Putin’s foreign policy, outlined in a 31-page “humanitarian policy” published last September, to create a “Russian World”: a region driven by Russian language, culture, and orthodoxy. The idea is to present Russia as the custodian of tradition, a fiery opponent to the soft, morally bankrupt West with its focus on gay rights and feminism.”

How about some evidence if you are out to get a religious war going with this secular one. Which Priests, What Guy told you, where is the evidence – and better – Are you painting ALL the Russian Orthodox Priests? Because the ‘article’ is. Maybe you should do some reading on the Orthodox Church.

I once know a guy who was arrested and put in jail for ‘Smelling like a Witch’. If I got that arresting officer’s name does that make the ‘crime’ true? Was it a fair bust? It is just not good enough.

I know the writer is about ISIS and Kurds mostly, the Levant and Iran, and that is an entirely different world. Her writing on this does NOT meet the standards of international Reporting – I do not know how her other was, but this is overtly Partisan.

I know a bit of the Orthodox Church, I labored through Archimandrite Sophrony signed copy of “The Monk of Mount Athos” (my family knew him) of Staretz Silouan and others – and it really disturbs me to see this religion maligned like this. Do as you will to individuals and Evidence, but this article was really off-putting.

martin logan
martin logan
1 year ago
Reply to  Jonas Moze

What is clear is that they still must remain loyal to Patriarch Kiril, whose comments have facilitated the Russian attempts at genocide in Ukraine (killing those that resist, exiling more than a million Ukrainians to Russia, etc).
He’s simply following in the footsteps of the fatally compromised Russian Orthodox Church in Soviet times.

Jim McDonnell
Jim McDonnell
1 year ago
Reply to  martin logan

Zelensky should take a page from Henry VIII’s playbook – the OCU should take over all the Russian Orthodox Church’s Ukrainian property and replace the pro-Russian clerics with its own.

Dominic S
Dominic S
1 year ago
Reply to  martin logan

Incorrect. They issued a statement distancing themselves from his comments.

Mark Henderson
Mark Henderson
1 year ago
Reply to  martin logan

The church has formally separated from the Moscow Patriarchy. The article gets this wrong.

Jim McDonnell
Jim McDonnell
1 year ago
Reply to  martin logan

Zelensky should take a page from Henry VIII’s playbook – the OCU should take over all the Russian Orthodox Church’s Ukrainian property and replace the pro-Russian clerics with its own.

Dominic S
Dominic S
1 year ago
Reply to  martin logan

Incorrect. They issued a statement distancing themselves from his comments.

Mark Henderson
Mark Henderson
1 year ago
Reply to  martin logan

The church has formally separated from the Moscow Patriarchy. The article gets this wrong.

Wim de Vriend
Wim de Vriend
1 year ago
Reply to  Jonas Moze

I understand that the head of the Russian Orthodox church — Putin’s church — despite his impressively long white beard, is a former KGB officer. It also must be born in mind that historically, the Russian church has always been subordinate to the Russian government. This was peculiar to the eastern Catholic Church, not the western Church of Rome.
Moreover, Ukraine is fighting for its very existence against an aggressor bent on destroying it. I cannot imagine any government taking chances with an organization with such ties to the enemy.

Brett H
Brett H
1 year ago
Reply to  Wim de Vriend

the head of the Russian Orthodox Church 
 is a former KGB officer. 
That’s interesting. Where can I read more about that?

Brett H
Brett H
1 year ago
Reply to  Wim de Vriend

the head of the Russian Orthodox Church 
 is a former KGB officer. 
That’s interesting. Where can I read more about that?

Jeff Cunningham
Jeff Cunningham
1 year ago
Reply to  Jonas Moze

I was also bothered by the upfront claims backed by no more tangible evidence than finding cash and valuables which could mean almost anything.

Milton Gibbon
Milton Gibbon
1 year ago

The best bit was “we also found a large amount of gold jewellery — crosses to be specific.” in a Russian Orthodox church this is pretty much par for the course. The Russian churches I have been to are very much of the ethos that goldliness is next to godliness.

Last edited 1 year ago by Milton Gibbon
Bill Tomlinson
Bill Tomlinson
1 year ago
Reply to  Milton Gibbon

Even the name Christ derives from the Greek for gold: “chrisochou” .

Clearly the same line of thinking is to be found in the Spanish/Portuguese word for lighthouse – “faro” – which is a cognate of the title of the king of ancient Egypt: Pharaoh.

Bill Tomlinson
Bill Tomlinson
1 year ago
Reply to  Milton Gibbon

Even the name Christ derives from the Greek for gold: “chrisochou” .

Clearly the same line of thinking is to be found in the Spanish/Portuguese word for lighthouse – “faro” – which is a cognate of the title of the king of ancient Egypt: Pharaoh.

Milton Gibbon
Milton Gibbon
1 year ago

The best bit was “we also found a large amount of gold jewellery — crosses to be specific.” in a Russian Orthodox church this is pretty much par for the course. The Russian churches I have been to are very much of the ethos that goldliness is next to godliness.

Last edited 1 year ago by Milton Gibbon
martin logan
martin logan
1 year ago
Reply to  Jonas Moze

What is clear is that they still must remain loyal to Patriarch Kiril, whose comments have facilitated the Russian attempts at genocide in Ukraine (killing those that resist, exiling more than a million Ukrainians to Russia, etc).
He’s simply following in the footsteps of the fatally compromised Russian Orthodox Church in Soviet times.

Wim de Vriend
Wim de Vriend
1 year ago
Reply to  Jonas Moze

I understand that the head of the Russian Orthodox church — Putin’s church — despite his impressively long white beard, is a former KGB officer. It also must be born in mind that historically, the Russian church has always been subordinate to the Russian government. This was peculiar to the eastern Catholic Church, not the western Church of Rome.
Moreover, Ukraine is fighting for its very existence against an aggressor bent on destroying it. I cannot imagine any government taking chances with an organization with such ties to the enemy.

Jeff Cunningham
Jeff Cunningham
1 year ago
Reply to  Jonas Moze

I was also bothered by the upfront claims backed by no more tangible evidence than finding cash and valuables which could mean almost anything.

Jonas Moze
Jonas Moze
1 year ago

I hope this is not regarded as reporting by Unherd. It certainly is amazingly incendiary, if very vague and generalized in detail and proofs.

I was rather shocked to read this blanket calling a Church which has existed there Millennia spies and enemy combatants. I think this sort of writing may get a lot of people hurt.

So the concrete detail was money found in monasteries, and ”Writing’ and a song sung.

”Priests at the Pechersk Lavra complex were hooked up to lie detectors and grilled for information. Officers searched for signs of undocumented Russian saboteurs.”

”Oleksandr, an SBU agent who attended the raid in Kyiv, tells me it was triggered by a video that showed churchgoers singing songs about the “Russian World” and celebrating the “awakening” of Russia. “A normal guy went to Pechersk Lavra to pray,” explains Oleksandr. “He started to notice how odd things are: the priest is openly supporting Russia; the congregation are singing songs praising Russia. He’s in shock so begins to film the scene.”

”“At the monastery in Sarny in Rivne we found many foreign currencies along with two million Ukrainian hryvnia. We also found a large amount of gold jewellery — crosses to be specific.””

”Those living in formerly occupied regions claim that priests paid locals sympathetic to Moscow for coordinates of potential targets and for the locations and movements of Ukrainian troops. They also claim that priests bribed corrupt local officials in the run-up to the Russian invasion.”

”The Russian church in Ukraine is not only helping to fight Putin’s war. It also plays a crucial part in Putin’s foreign policy, outlined in a 31-page “humanitarian policy” published last September, to create a “Russian World”: a region driven by Russian language, culture, and orthodoxy. The idea is to present Russia as the custodian of tradition, a fiery opponent to the soft, morally bankrupt West with its focus on gay rights and feminism.”

How about some evidence if you are out to get a religious war going with this secular one. Which Priests, What Guy told you, where is the evidence – and better – Are you painting ALL the Russian Orthodox Priests? Because the ‘article’ is. Maybe you should do some reading on the Orthodox Church.

I once know a guy who was arrested and put in jail for ‘Smelling like a Witch’. If I got that arresting officer’s name does that make the ‘crime’ true? Was it a fair bust? It is just not good enough.

I know the writer is about ISIS and Kurds mostly, the Levant and Iran, and that is an entirely different world. Her writing on this does NOT meet the standards of international Reporting – I do not know how her other was, but this is overtly Partisan.

I know a bit of the Orthodox Church, I labored through Archimandrite Sophrony signed copy of “The Monk of Mount Athos” (my family knew him) of Staretz Silouan and others – and it really disturbs me to see this religion maligned like this. Do as you will to individuals and Evidence, but this article was really off-putting.

Thomas Chacko
Thomas Chacko
1 year ago

I am surprised by this article because it seems to be little more than war propaganda. Nothing said by the Ukrainian security services is challenged or doubted, no matter whether it is plausible or not (part of their evidence for stashes of secret wealth is “lots of gold crosses”). The fact that Ukraine is being invaded does not mean that obviously alarming behaviour by the Ukrainian government should just be whitewashed: raids on the religious institutions of the Russian-speaking population are the sort of thing that call for explanation, because it looks like part of an attempt to de-Russify Ukraine generally, which has always been the aim of a small factor of Ukrainian politics. If that factor is now calling the shots it is important to report on that, not to just amplify press releases by the secret police.

martin logan
martin logan
1 year ago
Reply to  Thomas Chacko

If they are affiliated with Moscow’s Patriarch, they have to obey their Patriarch.
And Kyril claims that Russia is fighting “satan” in Ukraine.

Thomas Chacko
Thomas Chacko
1 year ago
Reply to  martin logan

This “religious believers are all obedient pawns of their Head” is of a piece with traditional “Catholics are agents of a foreign power” and modern “Indian Muslims are agents of Pakistan” or “Jews are agents of Israel” nonsense. It is a little bit more complicated than that. If they are all “obeying their Patriarch” why did the Ukraine bishops of the Moscow Patriarchate condemn the invasion?

Thomas Chacko
Thomas Chacko
1 year ago
Reply to  martin logan

This “religious believers are all obedient pawns of their Head” is of a piece with traditional “Catholics are agents of a foreign power” and modern “Indian Muslims are agents of Pakistan” or “Jews are agents of Israel” nonsense. It is a little bit more complicated than that. If they are all “obeying their Patriarch” why did the Ukraine bishops of the Moscow Patriarchate condemn the invasion?

Sue Sims
Sue Sims
1 year ago
Reply to  Thomas Chacko

Indeed. Heavens, my (Catholic) church here on the South Coast has ‘lots of gold crosses’, plus gold (and silver) monstrances, reliquaries, patens and chalices, and a variety of other artifacts made from precious metals. That doesn’t mean that we’re plotting a revolution against the Government. (Admittedly, given the Tories’ self-immolation, that would be somewhat redundant.)

Bill Tomlinson
Bill Tomlinson
1 year ago
Reply to  Thomas Chacko

Agreed.
“Evidence … is “lots of gold crosses” .

A church is of course the last place any logical person would expect to find crosses!

martin logan
martin logan
1 year ago
Reply to  Thomas Chacko

If they are affiliated with Moscow’s Patriarch, they have to obey their Patriarch.
And Kyril claims that Russia is fighting “satan” in Ukraine.

Sue Sims
Sue Sims
1 year ago
Reply to  Thomas Chacko

Indeed. Heavens, my (Catholic) church here on the South Coast has ‘lots of gold crosses’, plus gold (and silver) monstrances, reliquaries, patens and chalices, and a variety of other artifacts made from precious metals. That doesn’t mean that we’re plotting a revolution against the Government. (Admittedly, given the Tories’ self-immolation, that would be somewhat redundant.)

Bill Tomlinson
Bill Tomlinson
1 year ago
Reply to  Thomas Chacko

Agreed.
“Evidence … is “lots of gold crosses” .

A church is of course the last place any logical person would expect to find crosses!

Thomas Chacko
Thomas Chacko
1 year ago

I am surprised by this article because it seems to be little more than war propaganda. Nothing said by the Ukrainian security services is challenged or doubted, no matter whether it is plausible or not (part of their evidence for stashes of secret wealth is “lots of gold crosses”). The fact that Ukraine is being invaded does not mean that obviously alarming behaviour by the Ukrainian government should just be whitewashed: raids on the religious institutions of the Russian-speaking population are the sort of thing that call for explanation, because it looks like part of an attempt to de-Russify Ukraine generally, which has always been the aim of a small factor of Ukrainian politics. If that factor is now calling the shots it is important to report on that, not to just amplify press releases by the secret police.

Zac Chave-Cox
Zac Chave-Cox
1 year ago

I know nothing about the claims of corruption, hiding weapons, etc., but none of that would surprise me. It’s unfortunately always been the case with religious leaders that a sizable percentage turn away from Christ’s teaching.
However, the sheer lack of research on display in this article with regards to the context surrounding the claims is shocking.

And in 2018, the OCU requested full independence from the head of the global Orthodox Church, Patriarch Bartholomew of Constantinople.

The Ecumenical Patriarch is not the “head” of the Orthodox church, as His All Holiness would gladly be the first to tell you. He does not have authority over the other patriarchs. His exact role is a hotly debated issue in the Orthodox church, which is behind much of the controversy over the separation of the church from the Patriarchate of Moscow. Some say he did not have the authority to do so, some say he did.
The situation of the church in Ukraine is a lot more complicated than this article makes it seem. Whether a Ukrainian citizen is loyal to their government or a separatist with sympathies for Putin does not determine which side of this church split they are on – there are other factors at play, which are too complicated for me to fully understand, but for instance, there are Ukrainian refugees in the UK, perfectly loyal to Ukraine’s fight against Russia that will not go to a Greek church here because the Greek church took Patriarch Bartholomew’s side in supporting the formation of the Ecumenical Patriarchate OCU.
The statement of “Ukraine’s pro-Russian church” that the article links to refers to internal church doctrinal issues when it criticises “erroneous religious policy” and “destructive ideologies of the OCU formed by Patriarch Bartholomew”. The author neglects to mention that the same statement by this “pro-Russian church” says this (google translate, sorry):

For almost three months, the Ukrainian people have been courageously defending themselves against the military attack of the Russian Federation, which invaded the territory of our sovereign and independent State. Every day this cruel war takes the lives of the sons and daughters of Ukraine. The flames of war pierced the heart of every citizen, thousands of families felt the burning pain of this terrible tragedy.

and this (Ukrainian Orthodox church here referring to the church still under the Moscow Patriarchate):

The Ukrainian Orthodox Church immediately condemned the military aggression of the Russian Federation against Ukraine and insisted that war is a great sin.

I don’t know that much about this situation and am just a random commenter taking 20 minutes procrastinating from doing his work, someone researching an article on this topic should be able to do a better job on this than me!

john O'Neal
john O'Neal
1 year ago
Reply to  Zac Chave-Cox

Resisting evil is a Christian Duty. They risk their lives to perform that duty, and it is both absurdity and obscenity to pretend otherwise.

James Sullivan
James Sullivan
1 year ago
Reply to  Zac Chave-Cox

Zac, I am an Orthodox Christian in the States who has followed this closely, and can attest that you got the broad strokes here correct. The issues here are complicated indeed (for instance, there is the matter of the self styled Ukrainian Patriarch Filaret and his remaining followers).
The factional splits within Orthodoxy over Ukraine have been curious and rather unpredictable. To date, many bishops, regardless of their jurisdictions, have been cagey on whether to condemn the Russian invasion or not, and it’s not predictably always the Russian-diaspora churches who have been more pro-Russia. Some of the people in ROCOR parishes (ROCOR = Russian Orthodox Church Outside Russia) have been absolutely vociferous in denouncing Moscow, while others (including a former friend of mine) denounce anyone who mutters a word against the invasion. And those divisions have not had a neat overlap with the Tomos issued by Bartholomew in 2019 – many still remain angry over that, but equally angry with Kiril for kissing up to Putin.
Put simply, it’s a mess. But we pray constantly for peace.

Dominic S
Dominic S
1 year ago
Reply to  James Sullivan

People disagree – just like everywhere.

Dominic S
Dominic S
1 year ago
Reply to  James Sullivan

People disagree – just like everywhere.

john O'Neal
john O'Neal
1 year ago
Reply to  Zac Chave-Cox

Resisting evil is a Christian Duty. They risk their lives to perform that duty, and it is both absurdity and obscenity to pretend otherwise.

James Sullivan
James Sullivan
1 year ago
Reply to  Zac Chave-Cox

Zac, I am an Orthodox Christian in the States who has followed this closely, and can attest that you got the broad strokes here correct. The issues here are complicated indeed (for instance, there is the matter of the self styled Ukrainian Patriarch Filaret and his remaining followers).
The factional splits within Orthodoxy over Ukraine have been curious and rather unpredictable. To date, many bishops, regardless of their jurisdictions, have been cagey on whether to condemn the Russian invasion or not, and it’s not predictably always the Russian-diaspora churches who have been more pro-Russia. Some of the people in ROCOR parishes (ROCOR = Russian Orthodox Church Outside Russia) have been absolutely vociferous in denouncing Moscow, while others (including a former friend of mine) denounce anyone who mutters a word against the invasion. And those divisions have not had a neat overlap with the Tomos issued by Bartholomew in 2019 – many still remain angry over that, but equally angry with Kiril for kissing up to Putin.
Put simply, it’s a mess. But we pray constantly for peace.

Zac Chave-Cox
Zac Chave-Cox
1 year ago

I know nothing about the claims of corruption, hiding weapons, etc., but none of that would surprise me. It’s unfortunately always been the case with religious leaders that a sizable percentage turn away from Christ’s teaching.
However, the sheer lack of research on display in this article with regards to the context surrounding the claims is shocking.

And in 2018, the OCU requested full independence from the head of the global Orthodox Church, Patriarch Bartholomew of Constantinople.

The Ecumenical Patriarch is not the “head” of the Orthodox church, as His All Holiness would gladly be the first to tell you. He does not have authority over the other patriarchs. His exact role is a hotly debated issue in the Orthodox church, which is behind much of the controversy over the separation of the church from the Patriarchate of Moscow. Some say he did not have the authority to do so, some say he did.
The situation of the church in Ukraine is a lot more complicated than this article makes it seem. Whether a Ukrainian citizen is loyal to their government or a separatist with sympathies for Putin does not determine which side of this church split they are on – there are other factors at play, which are too complicated for me to fully understand, but for instance, there are Ukrainian refugees in the UK, perfectly loyal to Ukraine’s fight against Russia that will not go to a Greek church here because the Greek church took Patriarch Bartholomew’s side in supporting the formation of the Ecumenical Patriarchate OCU.
The statement of “Ukraine’s pro-Russian church” that the article links to refers to internal church doctrinal issues when it criticises “erroneous religious policy” and “destructive ideologies of the OCU formed by Patriarch Bartholomew”. The author neglects to mention that the same statement by this “pro-Russian church” says this (google translate, sorry):

For almost three months, the Ukrainian people have been courageously defending themselves against the military attack of the Russian Federation, which invaded the territory of our sovereign and independent State. Every day this cruel war takes the lives of the sons and daughters of Ukraine. The flames of war pierced the heart of every citizen, thousands of families felt the burning pain of this terrible tragedy.

and this (Ukrainian Orthodox church here referring to the church still under the Moscow Patriarchate):

The Ukrainian Orthodox Church immediately condemned the military aggression of the Russian Federation against Ukraine and insisted that war is a great sin.

I don’t know that much about this situation and am just a random commenter taking 20 minutes procrastinating from doing his work, someone researching an article on this topic should be able to do a better job on this than me!

Paul K
Paul K
1 year ago

‘And in 2018, the OCU requested full independence from the head of the global Orthodox Church, Patriarch Bartholomew of Constantinople.’

Bartholomew is not ‘the head of the global Orthodox church.’ There is no such thing as the ‘global Orthodox church’, and it has no ‘head.’ Churches are autocephalous (independent) of each other, and there is no equivalent of a Pope. Orthodoxy, unlike Catholicism, is decentralised.
The granting of autocephaly to the Ukrainian church by Bartholomew was highly controversial. It in effect created two Orthodox churches in Ukraine, neither of which recognised the other, and it further antagonised Moscow, since Kiev/Kyiv was the birthplace of Russian Christianity.
This is a dangerously one-sided article, ignorant and biased, and it will only serve the inflame religious tensions. Its ‘facts’ are all direct, uninvestigated claims by the Ukrainian government or its supporters, and it makes sweeping generalisations about both churches, as well as ‘young people’ and their attitudes to them. The author’s agenda is clear enough, but it’s not even an attempt at a genuine investigation. Unherd can do better than this.
Whether or not the attacks by Ukrainian forces on churches and monasteries at present can be justified, or whether ‘they’re hiding Russian weapons in them’ is a propaganda line which is being used to further demolish the historic Russian church in Ukraine is not clear to me. Certainly the church on both sides is becoming politicised. But this one-sided report is not helping us get any closer to the truth of the matter.

Last edited 1 year ago by Paul K
Paul K
Paul K
1 year ago

‘And in 2018, the OCU requested full independence from the head of the global Orthodox Church, Patriarch Bartholomew of Constantinople.’

Bartholomew is not ‘the head of the global Orthodox church.’ There is no such thing as the ‘global Orthodox church’, and it has no ‘head.’ Churches are autocephalous (independent) of each other, and there is no equivalent of a Pope. Orthodoxy, unlike Catholicism, is decentralised.
The granting of autocephaly to the Ukrainian church by Bartholomew was highly controversial. It in effect created two Orthodox churches in Ukraine, neither of which recognised the other, and it further antagonised Moscow, since Kiev/Kyiv was the birthplace of Russian Christianity.
This is a dangerously one-sided article, ignorant and biased, and it will only serve the inflame religious tensions. Its ‘facts’ are all direct, uninvestigated claims by the Ukrainian government or its supporters, and it makes sweeping generalisations about both churches, as well as ‘young people’ and their attitudes to them. The author’s agenda is clear enough, but it’s not even an attempt at a genuine investigation. Unherd can do better than this.
Whether or not the attacks by Ukrainian forces on churches and monasteries at present can be justified, or whether ‘they’re hiding Russian weapons in them’ is a propaganda line which is being used to further demolish the historic Russian church in Ukraine is not clear to me. Certainly the church on both sides is becoming politicised. But this one-sided report is not helping us get any closer to the truth of the matter.

Last edited 1 year ago by Paul K
Brett H
Brett H
1 year ago

“Orthodox churches are hiding Russian weapons”
I didn’t see evidence for this in the story.

Chris W
Chris W
1 year ago
Reply to  Brett H

What evidence would you expect in any story? Pictures of guns? Pictures of golden artefacts? Cries of “Fake, fake.”
In all wars religion takes sides. In WW1 British priests were preaching that Germans were evil. Believe it or not, German priests were preaching that the British were evil. Listen to Dylan’s ‘With God On Our Side’.
According to me, it is not possible to be religious and then take sides in a war. But this is what happens.

Brett H
Brett H
1 year ago
Reply to  Chris W

“What evidence would you expect in any story?”
Then I guess anyone can say anything they want about anything, without reference to facts. There was a time when a journalist would have to see something for himself before saying it was factual. But what does it matter? Everyone picks a side now and damn the facts..

Jeff Cunningham
Jeff Cunningham
1 year ago
Reply to  Chris W

I’d expect to see some descriptions at least. What did they find? Boxes of Kalishnikovs? Antitank weapons? Or a single handgun a priest took away from a suicidal parishoner.

Brett H
Brett H
1 year ago
Reply to  Chris W

“What evidence would you expect in any story?”
Then I guess anyone can say anything they want about anything, without reference to facts. There was a time when a journalist would have to see something for himself before saying it was factual. But what does it matter? Everyone picks a side now and damn the facts..

Jeff Cunningham
Jeff Cunningham
1 year ago
Reply to  Chris W

I’d expect to see some descriptions at least. What did they find? Boxes of Kalishnikovs? Antitank weapons? Or a single handgun a priest took away from a suicidal parishoner.

stephen archer
stephen archer
1 year ago
Reply to  Brett H

There would be little point in hiding weapons. The prospect of Russian sympathisers is probably more relevant, passing information on which would assist targeting of missile attacks or giving details of Ukrainian troop movements.

Chris W
Chris W
1 year ago
Reply to  Brett H

What evidence would you expect in any story? Pictures of guns? Pictures of golden artefacts? Cries of “Fake, fake.”
In all wars religion takes sides. In WW1 British priests were preaching that Germans were evil. Believe it or not, German priests were preaching that the British were evil. Listen to Dylan’s ‘With God On Our Side’.
According to me, it is not possible to be religious and then take sides in a war. But this is what happens.

stephen archer
stephen archer
1 year ago
Reply to  Brett H

There would be little point in hiding weapons. The prospect of Russian sympathisers is probably more relevant, passing information on which would assist targeting of missile attacks or giving details of Ukrainian troop movements.

Brett H
Brett H
1 year ago

“Orthodox churches are hiding Russian weapons”
I didn’t see evidence for this in the story.

M Lux
M Lux
1 year ago

I really hope no more of this nonsense gets published in Unherd, since I subscribed to get away from garbage like this. The author tries to distill a complicated internecine conflict and now religious split into the MSM categories of Ukrainian = good / Russian = bad.
The Russian-aligned priests not turning on the Russian Orthodox church on a dime is presented as them being supporters of the evil empire, as opposed to conservative (or maybe even principled) men who won’t turn on what was, until (basically) yesterday, their cultural & spiritual home.
The raids on these monasteries, on the other hand, are just good sense (despite a lack of concrete evidence that there’s anything to be had there), because obviously Russia is evil.
Now, I understand why the Ukrainians are doing it, but them purging (which is what it would be called if it was the other way around) local churches is not something that should somehow be presented as an unalloyed good – unless you subscribe the notion that purges are a legitimate method of governance, of course, but that seems very “russian-y” (aka autocratic) to me, as the MSM would have it.
I actually come from an Orthodox background and the Ukrainian church changing Christmas to the 25th feels to me like they are selling their cultural/religious history in order to pander to the west. Nevertheless, religion is also politics and this distances Ukraine from Russia, which is certainly their right, but it is actually also something of a tragedy for the shared slavo-orthodox cultural sphere (no, it’s not just the Russians). But of course, this isn’t a take anyone in the west is interested in and to suggest that Ukrainians and Russians are at all similar (or should have similar interests) is now verboten, so we’ll have none of it.
This article reads like a MI6 cheat sheet on what to say about the matter and I hope there isn’t more to come.

martin logan
martin logan
1 year ago
Reply to  M Lux

You DO realize that any idea of a “shared slavo-orthodox cultural sphere” was obliterated on 24 Feb?
Ukrainians now have more in common with Crimean Tatars than with Moscow’s Patriarchy.
Just accept reality, and things become a lot easier.
And when you don’t, well–you become that crumpled up little man called Vova Putin.

M Lux
M Lux
1 year ago
Reply to  martin logan

Oh yes, please educate me more about my own cultural sphere, mr martin logan. I’m sure you know better.
This war didn’t start on feb 24 and the slavic world doesn’t just consist of the poles and the russians, but to you, facts apparently don’t really matter.
I don’t care for either putin or zelensky, but the perpetual warmongering among western Ukraine “supporters” (such as yourself) makes me want to puke.
You just want to bray propaganda at everyone who doesn’t toe the line, reality doesn’t come into it at all.

M Lux
M Lux
1 year ago
Reply to  martin logan

Oh yes, please educate me more about my own cultural sphere, mr martin logan. I’m sure you know better.
This war didn’t start on feb 24 and the slavic world doesn’t just consist of the poles and the russians, but to you, facts apparently don’t really matter.
I don’t care for either putin or zelensky, but the perpetual warmongering among western Ukraine “supporters” (such as yourself) makes me want to puke.
You just want to bray propaganda at everyone who doesn’t toe the line, reality doesn’t come into it at all.

David Adams
David Adams
1 year ago
Reply to  M Lux

‘But of course, this isn’t a take anyone in the west is interested in and to suggest that Ukrainians and Russians are at all similar (or should have similar interests) is now verboten, so we’ll have none of it.’

Incorrect, many of us recognise the distinctiveness and beauty of the Orthodox cultural sphere, and the special historical and cultural brotherhood of Russians and Ukrainians (I married into a Romanian Orthodox family, and I see many parallels between the Russians and Ukrainians and the British and Irish), but after the fall of the Soviet Union, Russia was taken over by an alliance of its spies and its organised criminals, and they have spent at least the last 10 years trying to conquer the Greater Russian space and beyond, in a vain search for absolute security.

The writer might have written a fairly one-sided article, but he is not criticising the Russia-aligned church for ‘…not turning on the Russian Orthodox church on a dime…’, but for actively supporting an invasion of their country both materially and through indoctrination. Criticise his evidence for these assertions, but don’t distort what he said.

More broadly, don’t let Orthodoxy, which has a chance of preserving something good through the new Cultural Revolution, get dragged down with Putin’s rotting gangster state.

martin logan
martin logan
1 year ago
Reply to  M Lux

You DO realize that any idea of a “shared slavo-orthodox cultural sphere” was obliterated on 24 Feb?
Ukrainians now have more in common with Crimean Tatars than with Moscow’s Patriarchy.
Just accept reality, and things become a lot easier.
And when you don’t, well–you become that crumpled up little man called Vova Putin.

David Adams
David Adams
1 year ago
Reply to  M Lux

‘But of course, this isn’t a take anyone in the west is interested in and to suggest that Ukrainians and Russians are at all similar (or should have similar interests) is now verboten, so we’ll have none of it.’

Incorrect, many of us recognise the distinctiveness and beauty of the Orthodox cultural sphere, and the special historical and cultural brotherhood of Russians and Ukrainians (I married into a Romanian Orthodox family, and I see many parallels between the Russians and Ukrainians and the British and Irish), but after the fall of the Soviet Union, Russia was taken over by an alliance of its spies and its organised criminals, and they have spent at least the last 10 years trying to conquer the Greater Russian space and beyond, in a vain search for absolute security.

The writer might have written a fairly one-sided article, but he is not criticising the Russia-aligned church for ‘…not turning on the Russian Orthodox church on a dime…’, but for actively supporting an invasion of their country both materially and through indoctrination. Criticise his evidence for these assertions, but don’t distort what he said.

More broadly, don’t let Orthodoxy, which has a chance of preserving something good through the new Cultural Revolution, get dragged down with Putin’s rotting gangster state.

M Lux
M Lux
1 year ago

I really hope no more of this nonsense gets published in Unherd, since I subscribed to get away from garbage like this. The author tries to distill a complicated internecine conflict and now religious split into the MSM categories of Ukrainian = good / Russian = bad.
The Russian-aligned priests not turning on the Russian Orthodox church on a dime is presented as them being supporters of the evil empire, as opposed to conservative (or maybe even principled) men who won’t turn on what was, until (basically) yesterday, their cultural & spiritual home.
The raids on these monasteries, on the other hand, are just good sense (despite a lack of concrete evidence that there’s anything to be had there), because obviously Russia is evil.
Now, I understand why the Ukrainians are doing it, but them purging (which is what it would be called if it was the other way around) local churches is not something that should somehow be presented as an unalloyed good – unless you subscribe the notion that purges are a legitimate method of governance, of course, but that seems very “russian-y” (aka autocratic) to me, as the MSM would have it.
I actually come from an Orthodox background and the Ukrainian church changing Christmas to the 25th feels to me like they are selling their cultural/religious history in order to pander to the west. Nevertheless, religion is also politics and this distances Ukraine from Russia, which is certainly their right, but it is actually also something of a tragedy for the shared slavo-orthodox cultural sphere (no, it’s not just the Russians). But of course, this isn’t a take anyone in the west is interested in and to suggest that Ukrainians and Russians are at all similar (or should have similar interests) is now verboten, so we’ll have none of it.
This article reads like a MI6 cheat sheet on what to say about the matter and I hope there isn’t more to come.

CHARLES STANHOPE
CHARLES STANHOPE
1 year ago

Sounds very like the Catholic Church all those (happy) years ago in Ireland.

Last edited 1 year ago by CHARLES STANHOPE
Roger Bond
Roger Bond
1 year ago

I think you are right. The fact is that all religions are corrupt at the very highest levels. See https://www.thenationalnews.com/world/mena/betrayal-in-the-holy-land-the-greek-orthodox-church-is-secretly-selling-jerusalem-property-to-israel-1.844272 for a further example of the way in which the Greek Orthodox Church puts its financial interests ahead of the interests of their parishioners.

john O'Neal
john O'Neal
1 year ago
Reply to  Roger Bond

There is nothing vaguely corrupt about resisting the evil of this war, engineered by the West.
How anyone can pretend Russia should tolerate enemy missiles on its border is a mystery to me.

martin logan
martin logan
1 year ago
Reply to  john O'Neal

Please tell us where these “offensive missiles” were in Ukraine.
Many have hunted for them, without success…

CHARLES STANHOPE
CHARLES STANHOPE
1 year ago
Reply to  john O'Neal

Reminds me of the Cuban Missile Drama, and those pesky US ‘Nuclear tipped’ Jupiter Missiles in Turkey.

martin logan
martin logan
1 year ago
Reply to  john O'Neal

Please tell us where these “offensive missiles” were in Ukraine.
Many have hunted for them, without success…

CHARLES STANHOPE
CHARLES STANHOPE
1 year ago
Reply to  john O'Neal

Reminds me of the Cuban Missile Drama, and those pesky US ‘Nuclear tipped’ Jupiter Missiles in Turkey.

john O'Neal
john O'Neal
1 year ago
Reply to  Roger Bond

There is nothing vaguely corrupt about resisting the evil of this war, engineered by the West.
How anyone can pretend Russia should tolerate enemy missiles on its border is a mystery to me.

john O'Neal
john O'Neal
1 year ago

It’s the precise opposite. If the Catholic Church had defended Irish Freedom, the history would be different.
All of Christendom should oppose this horrific war that the CIA started, and quit pretending that mouthy comedian Z is some sort of hero.

martin logan
martin logan
1 year ago
Reply to  john O'Neal

But it is destroying one of the more tiresome foes of the West.
That will in turn mean a marked decrease in the defence budgets of all our countries. Something called “Real Politik.”
To paraphrase Stalin:
“No Russia, no problem…”

CHARLES STANHOPE
CHARLES STANHOPE
1 year ago
Reply to  john O'Neal

In my experience the Catholic Church did try BUT albeit at a very low level.

Hardly surprising really when you consider that ‘we’ paid for the establishment of Maynooth in 1795.

martin logan
martin logan
1 year ago
Reply to  john O'Neal

But it is destroying one of the more tiresome foes of the West.
That will in turn mean a marked decrease in the defence budgets of all our countries. Something called “Real Politik.”
To paraphrase Stalin:
“No Russia, no problem…”

CHARLES STANHOPE
CHARLES STANHOPE
1 year ago
Reply to  john O'Neal

In my experience the Catholic Church did try BUT albeit at a very low level.

Hardly surprising really when you consider that ‘we’ paid for the establishment of Maynooth in 1795.

Roger Bond
Roger Bond
1 year ago

I think you are right. The fact is that all religions are corrupt at the very highest levels. See https://www.thenationalnews.com/world/mena/betrayal-in-the-holy-land-the-greek-orthodox-church-is-secretly-selling-jerusalem-property-to-israel-1.844272 for a further example of the way in which the Greek Orthodox Church puts its financial interests ahead of the interests of their parishioners.

john O'Neal
john O'Neal
1 year ago

It’s the precise opposite. If the Catholic Church had defended Irish Freedom, the history would be different.
All of Christendom should oppose this horrific war that the CIA started, and quit pretending that mouthy comedian Z is some sort of hero.

CHARLES STANHOPE
CHARLES STANHOPE
1 year ago

Sounds very like the Catholic Church all those (happy) years ago in Ireland.

Last edited 1 year ago by CHARLES STANHOPE
martin logan
martin logan
1 year ago

Some very ingenious comments here.
But the bottom line is that the Russian Orthodox Church was essentially an arm of the Soviet govt until 1991. It was largely controlled by the KGB.
There was some hope of a different relationship with the govt afterward. But the war, and the Church’s support for it, show that relations with Putin’s FSB have only strengthened. Whether or not the ROC in Ukraine was a significant threat is, however, doubtful.
The sad part is that, having tied itself so closely to a single, irreplaceable leader, when that leader goes, there will simply nothing to hold the nation together anymore. Moreover, the ROC will have so compromised itself that it will have almost no ability to ameliorate a new “Smutnoye Vremya.”
And that will be very sad for all Russians.

martin logan
martin logan
1 year ago

Some very ingenious comments here.
But the bottom line is that the Russian Orthodox Church was essentially an arm of the Soviet govt until 1991. It was largely controlled by the KGB.
There was some hope of a different relationship with the govt afterward. But the war, and the Church’s support for it, show that relations with Putin’s FSB have only strengthened. Whether or not the ROC in Ukraine was a significant threat is, however, doubtful.
The sad part is that, having tied itself so closely to a single, irreplaceable leader, when that leader goes, there will simply nothing to hold the nation together anymore. Moreover, the ROC will have so compromised itself that it will have almost no ability to ameliorate a new “Smutnoye Vremya.”
And that will be very sad for all Russians.

Michael Sinclair
Michael Sinclair
1 year ago

Bertrand Russell in 1959, when asked what messages he would like future generations to consider mentioned two – one was to consider only the facts ” when you are studying any matter, or considering any philosophy, ask yourself only what are the facts and what is the truth that the facts bear out. Never let yourself be diverted either by what you wish to believe or by what you think would have beneficent social effects if it were to be believed”.
Five years later in 1964 we had Marshall McLuahn’s ‘ The Media is the message’.
As this article perhaps to an extent exemplifies it is both difficult to find and qualify fact – nothing new. The ‘garden’ of grown media fact is inevitably picked by a majority to enable their narrative. In respect, it is therefore important to apply the very same factual critical rigour to ourselves as it is to all that we question.

Michael Sinclair
Michael Sinclair
1 year ago

Bertrand Russell in 1959, when asked what messages he would like future generations to consider mentioned two – one was to consider only the facts ” when you are studying any matter, or considering any philosophy, ask yourself only what are the facts and what is the truth that the facts bear out. Never let yourself be diverted either by what you wish to believe or by what you think would have beneficent social effects if it were to be believed”.
Five years later in 1964 we had Marshall McLuahn’s ‘ The Media is the message’.
As this article perhaps to an extent exemplifies it is both difficult to find and qualify fact – nothing new. The ‘garden’ of grown media fact is inevitably picked by a majority to enable their narrative. In respect, it is therefore important to apply the very same factual critical rigour to ourselves as it is to all that we question.

Dominic S
Dominic S
1 year ago

I’m not sure why we are supposed to believe in the sincerity of actions by a government which has banned all opposition parties.

Dominic S
Dominic S
1 year ago

I’m not sure why we are supposed to believe in the sincerity of actions by a government which has banned all opposition parties.

Luke Landtroop
Luke Landtroop
1 year ago

A disappointing article that vastly oversimplifies a complex issue.

Last edited 1 year ago by Luke Landtroop
Luke Landtroop
Luke Landtroop
1 year ago

A disappointing article that vastly oversimplifies a complex issue.

Last edited 1 year ago by Luke Landtroop
John Uebersax
John Uebersax
1 year ago

Given the laudable mission of Unherd, this is a surprisingly partisan piece. Even the headline smacks of click-bait.
The last time I checked, there were two sides to every issue. Mainstream media is 100% behind the ‘Putin is nothing but unmitigated evil and worse than Hitler’ narrative. It would be nice to see a different viewpoint, even if it’s phrased as ‘what if.’ What if Kiev is over-reacting? What if — just maybe — the evidence of Russian collusion has been exaggerated if not wholly fabricated? Even those very sympathetic to Kiev must admit there has been an uncomfortable generalized suppression of freedom of speech and democratic political processes.
I’m not taking sides here. As far I’m concerned, the real problem is the US military industrial complex, which is making a mint off the war! (If Unherd has cojones, let’s see someone write about that.)
Please (seriously) spare me reactionary comments affirming how evil Putin is. As far as I’m concerned, the US government — mine — is responsible for this evil and detestable war. And my fellow US citizens are at fault for neither opposing nor questioning our government’s role and intentions.
Three facts of life: (1) the enemy is war itself; (2) the stated causes of wars are never the real ones; (3) everybody loses in a war. People of good will must put aside partisan differences to address these issues.

Last edited 1 year ago by John Uebersax
John Uebersax
John Uebersax
1 year ago

Given the laudable mission of Unherd, this is a surprisingly partisan piece. Even the headline smacks of click-bait.
The last time I checked, there were two sides to every issue. Mainstream media is 100% behind the ‘Putin is nothing but unmitigated evil and worse than Hitler’ narrative. It would be nice to see a different viewpoint, even if it’s phrased as ‘what if.’ What if Kiev is over-reacting? What if — just maybe — the evidence of Russian collusion has been exaggerated if not wholly fabricated? Even those very sympathetic to Kiev must admit there has been an uncomfortable generalized suppression of freedom of speech and democratic political processes.
I’m not taking sides here. As far I’m concerned, the real problem is the US military industrial complex, which is making a mint off the war! (If Unherd has cojones, let’s see someone write about that.)
Please (seriously) spare me reactionary comments affirming how evil Putin is. As far as I’m concerned, the US government — mine — is responsible for this evil and detestable war. And my fellow US citizens are at fault for neither opposing nor questioning our government’s role and intentions.
Three facts of life: (1) the enemy is war itself; (2) the stated causes of wars are never the real ones; (3) everybody loses in a war. People of good will must put aside partisan differences to address these issues.

Last edited 1 year ago by John Uebersax