Russia wants to move from “special military operation” to “holy war”. There is a “sacred goal”.

Russian power has been making efforts for weeks to give a religious and sacred dimension to the Russian offensive in Ukraine – from “special military action” to “holy war”.

Former Russian President Dmitry Medvedev, who is number two in the powerful Russian Security Council, said in early November that the attack’s “holy purpose” was to “stop the leader of hell.” Orthodox Church, right

“We fight against those who hate us, ban our language, values ​​and even our faith,” declared Dmitry Medvedev.

Russia’s enemies denounced Ukrainian “Nazis” and “dogs” from the West, a close ally of the former head of state, Vladimir Putin.

“Holy War” against the West

In a sign of the importance the Kremlin attaches to the spiritual dimension it is trying to inject into its military intervention, Vladimir Putin declared in his New Year’s greetings that “moral justice” is on Moscow’s side.

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This statement explains the authorities’ desire to address the suspicions of a segment of the population in Russia, far from the entry of Russian troops into a country where the majority are believers, such as Orthodox Christians.

Religious rhetoric has increased since the fall as Moscow has suffered more military defeats, with senior officials and state media portraying Russia’s military intervention in Ukraine as a “holy war” against the West, which has been shown to be decadent.

The priests were sent before

Apart from speeches, the infiltration of religious and military domains is manifested by sending dozens of priests to the front to support the army.

Military chaplain Svyatoslav Surkhanov stated that these missions are aimed at preventing soldiers from “losing their souls (…), even if the situation prompts them to do so”.

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A priest “must instill in the souls of the soldiers that they should not torture prisoners (…). They should not loot, they should not harm civilians,” he continued.

The priest has no doubt about the legitimacy of this attack against Ukraine, which, in his opinion, lies in the defense of the “traditional values” of the Kremlin and the defenders of the Russian Orthodox Church.

Army’s Sacrifice “Washes Away Sins”

In a sign of the priests’ importance in the war, Vladimir Putin in November bestowed the title of “Hero of the Russian Federation” β€” the country’s highest distinction β€” on an Orthodox priest killed in a war zone. Mikhail Vasiliev.

Kirill, the powerful head of the Russian Orthodox Church, expressed his support for the military offensive, insisting it was necessary to support pro-Russian “brothers” in eastern Ukraine who had “rejected” Western values.

In a sermon at the end of September, he said that the slain men were fulfilling their “military duty” with a “sacrifice that washes away all sins.”

Dissensions in the Church

But this involvement of the Church in the war, and the increasingly religious rhetoric surrounding it, lacked consensus in Russia.

“This rhetoric of ‘holy war’ dates back to the Middle Ages,” declares Andrey Kordoshikin, a priest of the Russian Orthodox Church in Madrid.

The Moscow Patriarchate has shown its support for the military invasion, but it has caused ripples in the Orthodox world, with a bitter war between the Russian and Ukrainian Orthodox churches.

Anti-war editorial signed by clergy

There are differences within the Russian clergy, and on March 1, 293 the Orthodox clergy signed an editorial against the “fratricidal war”.

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“Not only Russian society, but also the Church and the clergy are divided,” says priest Andrei Kordoshikin.

Many of the signatories of the text were sanctioned by the Patriarchate, which moved them from their parishes, declaring one of them under the protection of anonymity.

“In recent years, relations between the top Orthodox hierarchy and power have strengthened (…). The state helped the church a lot, and this help created a great dependency,” he declares.

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