Putin praises Russian Orthodox Church aid forces in Ukraine

President Vladimir Putin on Saturday praised the Russian Orthodox Church for helping Moscow’s forces fighting in Ukraine

The Kremlin issued Putin’s message after the Russian leader attended an Orthodox Christmas Eve service alone inside the Kremlin Cathedral, rather than joining other worshipers in public celebrations.

In his message posted on the Kremlin website, Putin made it clear that he considers the Russian Orthodox Church to be an important stabilizing force in society. West over Ukraine and other issues.

“The Russian Orthodox Church and other Christian denominations have made a huge and constructive contribution to uniting society, preserving our historical memory, educating our youth and strengthening the family system,” Putin said. I am very happy that I did.

“Church organizations have made it a priority to support our warriors who are participating in special military operations… [in Ukraine.] Such large-scale, complex, and truly selfless work deserves heartfelt respect. ”

On Friday, Putin ordered a 36-hour ceasefire to celebrate, but Kyiv refused. A Moscow ploy to buy time to reorganize, Russian and Ukrainian forces exchanged artillery fire after the announcement.

Many Orthodox Christians celebrate Christmas on January 7th.

The Russian Orthodox Church’s support for Moscow’s war in Ukraine has angered many Ukrainian Orthodox followers and split the Orthodox Church around the world.

About 100 million of the world’s 260 million Orthodox Christians are in Russia, and some abroad are allied with Moscow.

But others strongly disagreed, rejecting Moscow’s claims that last year’s February 24 invasion was a necessary preemptive strike to protect its own security and the security of Russian-speaking people in Ukraine. increase.

There are about 30 million Orthodox believers in Ukraine, divided between the Moscow Patriarchate’s Ukrainian Orthodox Church and two other Orthodox churches, one of which is the Dokdo or Independent Ukrainian Orthodox Church.

At Friday’s service, Moscow Patriarch Kirill criticized Ukraine for cracking down on Orthodox churches with long-standing ties to Moscow.

Andrew Osborne