President Vladimir Putin praised Russia’s Orthodox Church for its support of the Ukrainian forces in fighting in Ukraine. This was part of an Orthodox Christmas message meant to unite people around his vision and mission for modern Russia.
Putin received the message from Putin after he attended an Orthodox Christmas Eve service in his Kremlin cathedral on his own, rather than participating with other worshippers at a public celebration.
Putin’s message was accompanied by an image of himself standing in front of religious icons on the Kremlin site. This picture shows Putin clearly stating that he sees the Russian Orthodox church as a stabilizing force and that there is no historical conflict between Russia and Russia over Ukraine.
Putin stated that it was deeply satisfying to see the immense constructive contributions of the Russian Orthodox and other Christian churches in uniting society, conserving our historical memories, and educating young people, and strengthening the institution family.
“Church organizations prioritize…supporting our soldiers taking part in special military operations (in Ukraine). This selfless, massive and complex work is worthy of our sincere admiration.”
Putin declared a ceasefire of 36 hours for celebrations on Friday. Kyiv, however, rejected the order as Moscow tried to buy time. After the announcement, the Russian and Ukrainian armies exchanged fire with each other.
Although many Orthodox Christians observe Christmas on January 7, the Russian Orthodox Church’s support for Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine angered many Ukrainian Orthodox Christians and split the Orthodox Church worldwide.
There are approximately 260 million Orthodox Christians around the globe. About 100 million of these are located in Russia, while some are living in harmony with Moscow.
However, others are opposed to Moscow’s claim that the February 24th invasion of Ukraine was an important pre-emptive strike in order to protect its security as well as that of Russian speakers living there.
Ukraine is home to around 30 million Orthodox Christians. Its Orthodox faith is divided among the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the Moscow patriarchate, and two Orthodox churches, the Autocephalous or autonomous Ukrainian Orthodox church.
On Friday, Patriarch Kirill from Moscow criticized Ukraine’s crackdown on an Orthodox branch with longstanding connections to Moscow.