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'Holy war': Russian Orthodox Church offers Kremlin ultra-nationalistic ideology - ISW

'Holy war': Russian Orthodox Church offers Kremlin ultra-nationalistic ideology - ISW Photo: Patriarch of the Russian Orthodox Church Kirill (Gundyayev) (Getty Images)

The Russian Orthodox Church of the Moscow Patriarchate (ROC MP) has amalgamated several Kremlin ideological narratives in an attempt to shape a broader nationalist ideology around the war in Ukraine and Russia's expansionist future, according to the Institute for the Study of War (ISW).

It is noted that on March 27-28, the ROC held the World Russian People's Council in Moscow and approved an ideological and political document.

In it, the ROC reinforced Kremlin rhetoric regarding Russia's war in Ukraine, labeling it an existential and civilizational "holy war." This marks a significant departure for the Russian authorities, who have previously carefully avoided officially framing Russia's incursion into Ukraine as any form of "war."

Additionally, the ROC MP consolidates previous parallel Kremlin narrative efforts into a relatively cohesive ideology focused on national identity and demographic revival, promising Russians a period of national rejuvenation in exchange for social and civic duties.

Furthermore, the ROC MP emphasized that the "the restoration of the unity of the Russian people" through the war in Ukraine is a key condition for Russia's survival and successful development in the 21st century.

ISW analysts believe that this call for restoration amounts to the full-scale destruction of the Ukrainian nation and its incorporation into Russia.

Additionally, the Russian Orthodox Church aims to convert ethnic Belarusians into the Russian nation through its "doctrine of triunity" concept and to repatriate other "compatriots" abroad on a massive scale.

"The Kremlin may choose not to fully align itself publicly with the ultranationalist ideology that the ROC MP has proposed at this time but will highly likely borrow from and leverage it to generate support for the war effort in Ukraine and any future acts of aggression against Russia’s neighbors and the West," says the ISW report.

Combatting the ROC MP in Ukraine

It is worth recalling that in mid-December 2023, Ukraine issued a warrant for the arrest of Patriarch Kirill (Vladimir Gundyayev) of the Russian Orthodox Church.

Last autumn, Patriarch Kirill of the ROC stated that death in the line of military duty is a "sacrifice" and supposedly "wipes away all sins."

Furthermore, in December of last year, suspicion was raised against the ROC protoiereus from the occupied Crimea, Dmitro Krotkov. He was allegedly "blessing" terrorists to kill Ukrainians and supplying the enemy with combat drones.