Russian Orthodox Church trying to form wider nationalist ideology around Ukraine war - ISW

Russian Orthodox Church trying to form wider nationalist ideology around Ukraine war - ISW

The Russian Orthodox Church is trying to form a wider nationalist ideology around the war in Ukraine and Russia's expansionist future.

The Washington-based Institute for the Study of War (ISW) said this in a new Russian offensive campaign assessment, Ukrinform reports.

According to ISW analysts, the Russian Orthodox Church Moscow Patriarchate (ROC MP), a Kremlin-controlled organization and a known tool within the Russian hybrid warfare toolkit, held the World Russian People's Council in Moscow on March 27 and 28 and approved an ideological and policy document tying several Kremlin ideological narratives.

In particular, the ROC MP intensified Kremlin rhetoric about Russia's war in Ukraine and cast it as an existential and civilizational "holy war," a significant inflection for Russian authorities who have so far carefully avoided officially framing Russia's invasion of Ukraine as any kind of "war." In addition, the ROC MP highlighted that "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 throughout the 21st century. This call for restoration amounts to the full-scale destruction of the Ukrainian nation and its envelopment into Russia.

Read also: Kremlin tying West to terrorist attacks to generate domestic support for war in Ukraine – ISW

"Ukrainian victory does not pose these existential threats, however, as Ukraine's struggle to restore its territorial integrity, return its people, and defend its national identity does not infringe on Russian identity, statehood, or territorial integrity," the ISW said.

According to analysts, the ROC MP appears to be combining previously parallel Kremlin narrative efforts into a relatively cohesive ideology focusing on national identity and demographic resurgence that promises Russians a period of national rejuvenation in exchange for social and civic duties.

"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," the ISW said.

The Security Service of Ukraine (SBU) placed Patriarch of the Russian Orthodox Church Kirill (Vladimir Gundyaev) on the wanted list on December 15, 2023.

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