Written by Vladimir Moss



     From a purely ecclesiastical point of view, the Russo-Ukrainian conflict can be evaluated in a very simple way by the True Orthodox: none of the main actors in the conflict are truly Orthodox, all are in heresy or schism, so we can regard the actions of none of the Churches involved as canonical or inspired by the Holy Spirit. However, from a political, and especially from a personal or practical point of view the matter is by no means so simple – and not only for people of Russian or Ukrainian origin. Moreover, the consequences of the conflict for the further development of World Orthodoxy are of grave concern for all.

      The ecclesiastical dispute in its present phase centres on Patriarch Bartholomew’s project to create an Ukrainian autocephalous Church. In 1686 Patriarch Dionysius IV of Constantinople handed over jurisdiction of the KIevan Metropolia to the Moscow Patriarchate. This made good sense at the time because the Muscovite tsardom, whose influence and power had been extending south and west into the Ukraine and Belorussia for several decades, was in a much better position to protect the Orthodox Christians of the region from heterodox and Muslim influences and persecution than Constantinople, which was itself under the power of the Ottoman Sultans. Nor did Constantinople contest the canonicity of Moscow’s rule over the Kiev metropolia at any time before the revolution of 1917… After 1917 three major new factors began to complicate the situation: Constantinopolitan imperialism, Ukrainian nationalism and, of course, Soviet communism. All three tendencies were anti-Orthodox, and all three were resisted by the Moscow Patriarchate under Patriarch Tikhon of Moscow and Metropolitan Vladimir of Kiev, both of whom received the crown of holy martyrdom. Thus the MP resisted and condemned Constantinople’s creation of illegal autocephalies in Poland, the Baltic States, Finland and Hungary and Czechoslovakia, as well as its support for the Russian renovationists and the self-consecrating Ukrainian autocephalists. There is therefore a solid canonical and truly Orthodox foundation to the Russian Orthodox opposition to Ukrainian autocephaly. Of course, the MP today is not the MP of the 1920s – the organization going by that name was built by Stalin and the traitor Metropolitan Sergius (later “patriarch of Moscow”) on the bones of the faithful hierarchs of the canonical, truly Orthodox MP that existed before Sergius’ surrender to the Bolsheviks in 1927. But the valid arguments of the true, pre-1927 Russian Church against Ukrainian autocephaly are not undermined by the fact that they are also supported by today’s false, Sovietized Moscow Patriarchate. It follows that we must agree with the assertion of Archbishop Tikhon, head of the Russian True Orthodox Church, that Constantinople’s granting of Ukrainian autocephaly is “at a minimum an unwise step”.[1]


     Archbishop Tikhon also said that the whole process initiated by Constantinople was “highly politicized”. In this we must also agree; but it is not clear what conclusion follows from this fact because there is strong political pressure on both sides in this conflict. Political pressure was brought to bear on the original declaration of a Ukrainian autocephalous church just after the revolution by Ukrainian nationalists and Soviet communists, leading to the martyrdom of Metropolitan Vladimir of Kiev in 1918. However, today’s declaration of autocephaly has been brought about by a different combination of pressures: Ukrainian nationalists and American liberals. In fact, today’s ecclesiastical war between Moscow and Constantinople is really a proxy war between their respective political backers, the KGB and the CIA.

     The former assertion, that the MP is backed (and thoroughly infiltrated and controlled) by the KGB, is beyond dispute and there are few attempts to hide it now that the KGB has been rehabilitated in the eyes of those Russian people who either reject or do not know the history of the Russian Church and the Russian nation.  The idea that this leopard has really changed its spots is highly dubious; but, sadly, it is generally accepted… The latter assertion, that the EP is backed by the CIA, is more difficult to prove, but still very likely. In general, the CIA has interfered less in religious affairs than the KGB, perhaps because it is influenced, as ex-KGB agent Konstantin Preobrazhensky has speculated, by the American belief in the complete separation of Church and State. But since the Second World War the influence of the American state on the Ecumenical Patriarchate has been obvious, albeit exerted in a more subtle way than the KGB’s influence on the MP. Thus in 1949 President Truman lent Archbishop Athenagoras his private plane to fly to Constantinople and seize control of the patriarchate. And an EP blog has recently declared: “American presidents understood that Washington’s active support and defense of the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople was not only consistent with the principle of religious freedom but was also an important, global resource for highlighting and communicating American values in the twin arenas of international relations and Great Power diplomacy.”[2]

     The historian Kirill Alexandrov has also justly pointed to the influence that America has on the EP’s moral teaching, since “the social morals that reign in the ‘progressive’ American society affect the self-consciousness of members of the American Archdiocese. I want to believe that simple Orthodox Greeks in the US really live according to Christ’s commandments, and try to ‘depart from evil and do good’. But here follows a strong example, characterizing the morals of the top leadership of the American Archdiocese, and it should be noted that conventionally, a very important role in its management is played by lay people, usually businessmen or politicians.

     “One such influential politician in the Greek community is Michael Huffington, a prominent member of the Republican Party, a member of the US House of Representatives from California in 1993-95, and the founder of the influential media resource: The Huffington Post, which in 2012, was named the most popular political site in the US 

     “Michael Huffington was first a member of the Presbyterian Church, and then moved to the Evangelical, and in 1996, after traveling to Istanbul and having talks with the Phanarites, he became Orthodox. This, however, did not prevent him from openly declaring his homosexuality two years later, and even releasing in 2007 a film that promotes same-sex ‘love’ with a very frilly title: ‘We’re all Angels’.

     In addition, the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America and M. Huffington sponsor various projects for the promotion of LGBT communities, and ecumenical projects In order to bring the Orthodox and Catholics closer, he created at Loyola Marymount University, an ecumenical institution in his own name, the Huffington Ecumenical Institute, and stated that his dream is to see Catholics and Orthodox commune together. Considering that he is already 71 years old, he hopes that this will happen soon.

     “And this man in June 2018 openly called for the resignation of Archbishop Demetrios, the Primate of the American Archdiocese.

     ‘The reason for such appeals was a scandal involving the disappearance of the huge amounts from the treasury of the American archdiocese allocated for the construction of Saint Nicholas Cathedral in New York, and some other moments. The influential American edition The National Herald published an article dedicated to the analysis of the scandal in the American Archdiocese at the recent Synaxis.

     “The publication contains the words of Archbishop Demetrios, with whom he reacted in reproach for the misuse of funds, and the assertion that after this, the sponsors of the Archdiocese no longer trust him. He said that sponsors don’t have the right to ask what happened to the money, just as he does not ask them how they made their money.

     “Of course, it is very unusual to hear such maxims from an Orthodox Hierarch. But there is reason to believe that the US authorities know perfectly well who spent these funds and how, and Archbishop Demetrios with such rhetoric nobly tries to escape the threat of some of his high-ranking colleagues.

     “Thus, the US seems to have many levers of pressure on the Ecumenical Church—the very one which aggressively claims to be the undisputed head of the entire Orthodox world.”[3]


      But, granted that Bartholomew’s action in granting the Ukrainian Church (or rather, just one of the three Ukrainian Orthodox churches) autocephaly is almost certainly both uncanonical and politically motivated (by American interests and the LGBT lobby), and therefore “unwise”, is it likely to succeed?

      The answer to this question depends on the further question: “What is he trying to achieve?”

     The first, most charitable hypothesis is that he is really trying to unite the three main branches of Ukrainian Orthodoxy (KP-UOC, UOAC and UOC-MP) under his own favoured candidate, KP-UOC. However, this is bound to have the opposite effect, driving KP-UOC and UOC-MP further away from each other (the position of UOAC is less clear). We are reminded of the fate of Moscow’s creation of autocephaly for the Orthodox Church of America in 1970: to this day no other Local Orthodox Church recognizes the OCA, while the other Orthodox jurisdictions in America have not united under it.

      The second hypothesis is that he is vaingloriously trying to strengthen his own image as the Pope of Eastern Orthodoxy. But this project, too, is likely to fail. After all, most of the Local Orthodox Churches have already come out against his Tomos of Ukrainian Autocephaly, including the Church of Greece, which, being Greek, one might have expected to support him. The bitter fact for Bartholomew is: while he appears to be winning his race with Kirill of Moscow to be the Pope’s most favoured Orthodox patriarch, he is not at all popular in the Orthodox Church as a whole. There is a profound psychological reason for this: the World Orthodox have betrayed Orthodoxy by voluntarily following Bartholomew and other false hierarchs into the World Council of Churches and the rainbow-coloured embrace of the apostate West, and many of them have a bad conscience because of this. But, instead of repenting correctly by breaking communion with both apostate Catholics and Protestants and the false Orthodox hierarchs, they choose to put the blame on their leaders rather than themselves. The laity hope against hope that their clerical leaders will repent of their ecumenical course, so that they themselves will not have to take a stand against them. But in their heart of hearts they know that this is not going to happen, and so they direct their own feelings of guilt against their leaders. However, while they are right in thinking that “the leaders of this people cause them to err”, the fact remains that “those who are led by them are destroyed” (Isaiah 9.16).

     There remains only a third, political hypothesis: that Bartholomew is acting at the behest of his western political masters in trying to stir up nationalist passion in Ukraine. Let us look more closely at this hypothesis.

     Until 1991, Russia and Ukraine were part of a single state, the Soviet Union, which found itself under the anathema of the Russian Church’s 1918 anathema against the Bolsheviks and all those who cooperated with them. Ukraine voted for becoming an independent state (even in the Donbass), and since then it has moved – with some ups and downs – in a steadily anti-Soviet and pro-Western direction, until, at the present time, almost all Soviet symbolica and statues of Lenin have been cast down and all Soviet (and Nazi) propaganda have been outlawed. Only in the Russian-occupied Donbass and Crimea have symbols of Sovietism, such as the hammer and sickle, remained and even multiplied (often in blasphemous union with Orthodox Christian symbolica).

     By contrast, Russia since the fall of Yeltsin and the rise to power of Vladimir Putin in 2000, and especially since its invasion of Georgia in 2008, and of Crimea and Donbass in 2014, has steadily moved in a pro-Soviet and even pro-Stalinist direction. There are of course differences between Stalinist Sovietism and Putinist Sovietism – in particular, Putin’s much greater involvement in the structures of Western capitalism, which he and his billionaire Mafiosi comrades both exploit and depend on. But the similarities, and above all the similarity of spirit, are much more striking. Far from distancing himself from Stalinism, Putin justifies it by the nationalist myth of Stalin’s “Great Patriotic War”, which remains the cornerstone of Putin’s ideology, denial of which can now earn a prison sentence – or death. However, since the Valdai conference of 2014, Putin has added an important new argument to his ideological armoury: the supposed greater spirituality of his Russia, as opposed not only to the heretical West, but also to Orthodox Ukraine, which is seen now as being simply an offshoot of Western heretical Christianity and pseudo-spirituality. To a True Orthodox Christian, brought up on fierce rejection both of Sergianism (the subjection of the Church to the Soviet and neo-Soviet state) and of the ecumenical movement and the World Council of Churches (of which the MP has been an enthusiastic and influential participant since 1961), the idea that modern Russia, ruled as it is by the KGB and the MP, could have any claim to real spirituality, and therefore have a right to criticize the spirituality of others, will seem absurd – and absurdly hypocritical. Nevertheless, Putin’s argument needs to be addressed, if only because so many people believe it.


     There is no doubt that the pro-LGBT agenda of the West represents an enormous threat to any Orthodox Christian that is exposed to it: those who approve of the antichristian LGBT agenda, and still more those who practice it, will not enter the Kingdom of heaven, as the Apostle Paul quite clearly says (Romans 1.32; I Corinthians 6.9). The threat is especially great in relation to the younger generation brought up in the West, where LGBT propaganda is already compulsory, with almost all escape routes now blocked…

     Almost the only redeeming feature of Putin’s otherwise repulsive regime is its support for Orthodox Christianity (at any rate in the heretical form preached by the MP) and rejection of the abominable sexual morality of the West. The fact that both this support and this rejection are hypocritical (the MP’s hierarchy, for example, is riddled with homosexuals, and abortion is still permitted if the woman wants it and/or a doctor sanctions it; it is paid for by the state[4]) is not the point here. The fact is: at least the younger generation are being given some protection in Russia against LGBT propaganda. Without such protection it is doubtful that even the semblance of Orthodox Christianity will survive on earth for another generation…

     Some draw the conclusion from this that we must support Putin’s regime. The present writer does not draw this conclusion. Almost the last words of Tsar-Martyr Nicholas were that evil is not overcome by evil, but by good. The evil of the Western Antichrist will not be overcome by support for the Eastern Antichrist, nor by unequivocal support of one Orthodox nation against another. We must oppose both the sodomites’ blasphemous union of the Cross with the rainbow-coloured flag and the Putinists’ equally blasphemous union of the Cross with the hammer-and-sickle.

     Returning, finally, to Bartholomew and his divisive project of Ukrainian autocephaly: it will not succeed, for the reasons outlined above. And Orthodox Christians, whether Russian or Ukrainian, Greek or American, must unite against everything he stands for: that is, the Trojan horse of nationalist autocephalism, ecumenism, the new calendar, western heresy and western anti-morality in general. ”The walls of Jerusalem will be builded” – but only when all Orthodox Christians on all sides of the present conflict have united in offering a pure sacrifice to God, untainted by any heresy or moral abomination .

September 13/26, 2018.



[3] Alexandrov, “What Moved Patriarch Bartholomew to Lay Ruin to Ukrainian Orthodoxy?” Orthodox Christianity, September 23, 2018,  http://orthochristian.com/115911.html.

[4] It is often said that the number of abortions has been declining in Russia since 1990. This is true, but the numbers still remain high, and in practice there is little to stop an abortion at any stage of pregnancy if the woman wants it or a doctor approves of it. See “aborty v Rossii”, https://ru.wikipedia.org/wiki. Nor is homosexuality forbidden by the state among consenting adults – although social opinion is against it.

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