Moscow patriarch blames Ukraine invasion on 'relationships between the West and Russia'

(REUTERS / Sergei Gunyeev / Ria Novosti / Kremlin/Files)Russia's President Vladimir Putin (L) and Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia Kirill arrive for the meeting with Russian Orthodox church bishops in Moscow February 1, 2013. As troops loyal to Russian President Vladimir Putin were seizing control of Crimea, the head of the Russian Orthodox Church in Moscow deduced that an "internal political crisis" in Ukraine was threatening its territorial integrity. Picture taken February 1, 2013.

The origins of the confrontation in Ukraine lie in the relationships between the West and Russia and it has become part of a strategy to weaken Russia, Moscow Patriarch Kirill has said in a letter to the World Council of Churches.

Kirill's March 10 letter was in response to one sent March 2 by World Council of Churches acting general secretary Rev. Ioan Sauca asking Patriarch Kirill to mediate so that the war in Ukraine can be stopped.

The United Nations Refugee Agency said March 11 that more than 2.5 million people have fled Ukraine since Russia invaded on Feb. 24.

Kirill is known to have the ear of Russian President Vladimir Putin.

The Russian patriarch made no mention of the suffering Ukraine's civilans face as thier cities are bombarded and hundreds of them are killed and maimed.

He wrote, "This tragic conflict has become a part of the large-scale geopolitical strategy aimed, first and foremost, at weakening Russia.

"And now the Western leaders are imposing such economic sanctions on Russia that will be harmful to everyone."

The Russian Orthodox Church is the biggest from the Orthodox tradition in the WCC, which is a fellowship of 352 churches from more than 120 countries, representing over 580 million Christians worldwide.

The WCC includes most of the world's Orthodox churches, scores of Anglican, Baptist, Lutheran, Methodist and Reformed churches, as well as many United and Independent churches.


Kirill wrote that the Western leader make their intentions obvious – "to bring sufferings not only to the Russian political or military leaders, but specifically to the Russian people. Russophobia is spreading across the Western world at an unprecedented pace."

The National Catholic Reporter wrote on March 8, Kirill, a longtime ally of Russian President Vladimir Putin, had already refrained from criticizing the Russian invasion – alienating many in the Ukrainian Orthodox churches who had previously stayed loyal to the Moscow patriarch during a schism in their country."

Kirill said the WCC he hopes "that even in these trying times, as has been the case throughout its history, the World Council of Churches will be able to remain a platform for unbiased dialogue, free from political preferences and one-sided approach.

The WCC letter was sent on to the Russian patriarch on March 2, the sixth day since the Russian invasion of its neighbor that has drawn widespread global condemnation from countries and at the United Nations.

"It is with great pain and with a breaking heart that I am writing to Your Holiness," wrote Sauca who is from the Orthodox Church of Romania.

"The tragic situation of the war in Ukraine has brought tremendous suffering and loss of lives."

Separately in a statement on March 11 the World Council of Churches said it "is appalled by the escalating impact of the conflict in Ukraine on civilians – the women, men and children of Ukraine – and by what appears to be increasingly indiscriminate attacks,"

Sauca said. "The airstrike on the Mariupol Hospital No.3 on 9 March, attacks affecting other hospitals, schools, kindergartens and residential areas, and the rising toll of civilian deaths and injuries all indicate that international humanitarian law is being disregarded."

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