UNHOLY ALLIANCE: Putin’s Holy Man Pushed for the ‘Eradication’ of Ukraine
The Daily Beast
A. Craig Copetas — Mar. 22, 2022
Russian Orthodox Patriarch Kirill appears to be just as bloodthirsty as Vladimir Putin himself.
Beneath the gold onion domes of the Danilov Monastery a few miles south of the Kremlin, Vladimir Putin’s chief shaman explains why Russia is hell-bent on destroying Ukraine.
“If we see [Ukraine] as a threat, we have the right to use force to ensure the threat is eradicated,” Russian Orthodox Patriarch Kirill recently preached to his church’s 90 million faithful followers. “We have entered into a conflict which has not only physical but also metaphysical significance. We are talking about human salvation, something much more important than politics.”
The wartime coalition between Putin and his patriarch is called symphonia, an ironclad alliance between church and state that assures reciprocal reverence, with neither institution presuming to dominate the other. Theologians have spent centuries bickering over the fine points, which have now impaled 44 million Ukrainians as the victims of a bloodthirsty land-grab that Putin and the Patriarch have packaged as a holy campaign to cleanse souls.
“A new world order is born before our very eyes,” is how Putin described the relationship in a statement published at the start of the war, later warning those who disagreed with him “inflict maximum damage on people.” He said: “The Russian people will be able to distinguish true patriots from scum and traitors and spit them out like a midge that accidentally flew into their mouths.”
. . . Byzantine and Orthodox church historian Henry Hopwood-Philipps reckons NATO and all those who stand against Putin’s klepto-theocratic regime are in for a long wait.
“The information war, the military war against Putin looks to be effective,” Hopwood-Philipps says. “But for all the West’s digital gunpowder, we’re up against nearly 700 years of a deeply entrenched otherworldly belief system.”
“Putin and Kirill are attached at the hip.”
As the patriarch sees it, Ukrainians are sinners. “Many people out of weakness, stupidity, ignorance and most often a willingness to justify sin condemned by the Bible is a test of our ability to profess faith in our Savior,” Kirill has told his flock.
In Western capitals, Hopwood-Philipps says, Kirill’s muscular significance has been either disregarded or lost in translation. “Putin would execute any Russian churchman who disagrees with Kirill,” he says. “Putin and Kirill are attached at the hip, and they’ve shaped religion to offer the Russian people spiritual nourishment instead of physical sustenance.”
Putin’s scheme to resurrect symphonia and leverage it to gain influence beyond Russia’s borders reached its crescendo at a ceremony in Moscow in 2007, when Putin hosted the signing of the Act of Canonical Communion with the Russian Orthodox Church Abroad. Kirill was appointed Patriarch of Moscow and All Rus’ in 2009, heading a a global congregation of more than 140 million.
Since then, about 100 of the 340 clergymen who administer the Church Abroad community have swapped cassocks to join Orthodox churches not affiliated with Putin, according to Dr. Stratos Safioleas, spokesman for the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of New York. A further 145 U.S. Church Abroad parishes have so far followed suit.
“We need Frodo.”
A Russian Orthodox Church in Amsterdam has also left the parish over threats it’s received for condemning Putin’s invasion of Ukraine. “It is no longer possible for [us] to function within the Moscow Patriarchate and provide a spiritually safe environment for our faithful,” the parish council of St. Nicholas of Myra said in a statement.
As for the rebel priests left behind in Russia, history could offer a lesson on what to expect next from the Kremlin.
According to the diary of Johann Korb, the Austrian secretary of the Legation to the Court of Peter the Great, the Ukraine-born Exarch Stefan Yavorsky begged the tsar to stop torturing those who disagreed with him.
“What business is it of yours to come here,” the Romanov tsar shouted. “It is a duty that I owe God, to save my people from harm and to prosecute with public vengeance crimes that lead to the common ruin.”
So what would it take to defenestrate Putin and the patriarch from further wrecking Russia and annihilating Ukraine?
“We need Frodo,” sighs Sergey Buntman, the program director for the now-muzzled Echo Moscow Radio, eyeing the Hobbit who toppled Mordor in The Lord of the Rings as the only liberator with the mystical wallop to save both countries.
And Buntman was not being flippant.
The complete idiot’s guide to military logistics
It’s the boring stuff, the Russians are learning, that kills you in the end.
Russia’s intended campaign — an assault strike predicated on speed and Ukrainian political weakness — has tipped into a joint combat operation requiring logistical and communications planning that does not seem to have been in place, say analysts.
—Sam Jones, John Paul Rathbone, and Dmitri Sevastopulo, Financial Times, March 12.
Ricks: When I was a military correspondent, here is how I would explain the importance of logistics in military operations. This will help you understand the problems the Russian army is encountering in Ukraine.
Say you and your family want to visit Granma back in Indiana, about 500 miles away. You and your partner throw the kids, the dog and some clothes in the minivan, and you’re ready to go.
But wait: There is no food available on your route. So you go back inside and pack up a couple of days of meals, squeeze it into the back. And you feel ready.
Also, there are no gas stations on the way. You don’t feel comfortable carrying gas cans in the car, so you get your pickup truck, and fill up some cans, and put them in the back. You can drive that while your partner drives the minivan.
But also there are no dependable sources of potable water. So you put 200 gallons into cans and lift them into the back of the pick up.
Also, there are no doctors or hospitals. So you persuade some medical people you know to come along in their own car. But they also need food and water and gas, and space for their bandages and medicines and equipment, so they bring two pickups with them, loaded up.
Now we have a convoy of five vehicles. Ready to go? Not quite. There also is reliable information that you could be attacked along the way. So you get five truckloads of soldiers—two for the front, two for the back, and one to control and command their operations.
But wait. This security force also needs food, fuel, and water. So that’s another five truckloads right there. Plus, they need ammunition and back up gear. And batteries for all their radios. Add another truck.
When they show up, the medical people roll their eyes and say that with all these additional people, they’re gonna need another truckload of supplies.
Finally, you have the convoy ready. You roll out and get about a mile. A truck gets a flat! Guess what: There are no automotive repair shops on your route either. So you round up a team of mechanics. They have their own truck, plus three for food and water. And two for fuel. And two truckloads more for spare tires, engine oil, filters, and tools.
And finally, your convoy, now consisting of 25 vehicles, is on the road.
But you need to avoid the main roads, which might be mined, or have ambushes waiting. So you take to the back country, even to dirt roads. That way is safer, but it also is mighty slow. In two days you make just 63 miles, and then begin to run low on food and fuel. So you hunker down and do some new calculations on how many more truckloads of those you might need.
Now you are thinking like a military logistician.
Thomas E. Ricks is a former military correspondent for the Washington Post and the Wall Street Journal. His next book, “Waging a Good War: A military history of the Civil Rights Movement, 1954-1968,” is scheduled to be published in October 2022.