Patriarch Kirill on Ukraine invasion : 'Avoid casualties among peaceful population'
The leader of the Russian Orthodo church calls for assistance to refugees and the needy, for mutual understanding between the conflicting parties. For Putin, however, the attack was inevitable: the defence of Russian values from Western aggression.
Moscow (AsiaNews) - Patriarch Kirill (Gundjaev) has sent a message to all the pastors and faithful of the Russian Orthodox Church, "whose flock is in Russia, Ukraine and other states", calling on the parties to the conflict to "do everything possible to avoid casualties among the peaceful population". He called on everyone to assist refugees and those in need.
His call came after Russian troops began invading Ukraine yesterday morning.
Kirill confirms Vladimir Putin's thesis that "the Russian and Ukrainian peoples share a history across centuries, dating back to the Baptism of Rus' by the holy prince Vladimir". This God-given unity, the patriarch argues, "will be able to overcome the divisions that have arisen and the contradictions that have led to the current war". He does not bless the troops and the assaults, but tries to call everyone to mutual understanding: the hope is that everyone will listen to him, starting with those in the Kremlin.
Yesterday Putin justified the start of military operations in Ukraine by talking about 'tragic events in the Donbass': he wanted to explain how he intends to guarantee Russia's security.
The Russian president recalled the 'particular concern and tension over the serious threats that year after year, crudely and unceremoniously have been directed against [Russia] by the irresponsible politicians of the West'. These threats are the enlargement of NATO to the east and the rapprochement of its military structures towards Russia's borders.
For 30 years, Putin explains, 'we have been patiently and persistently trying to agree with the leading NATO countries on the principles of equal and indivisible security for the whole of Europe'. According to the Russian 'tsar', in response to his proposals Moscow was only faced with 'cynical deception and lies, if not pressure and blackmail', while the Atlantic Alliance continued undaunted to expand.
The Russian leader wondered why these developments, this "shameless way of addressing with the presumption of one's own exclusivity, one's own innocence and the pretence of doing anything", spitting on the interests of the Russians. "The answer is clear, everything is understandable and obvious: the Soviet Union had weakened in the late 1980s, and then it collapsed, and we were condemned to oblivion and degradation. For a while we lost confidence in ourselves, and the global balance went completely to hell'.
Today's war, according to Putin, must therefore re-establish an order lost in the last century, re-establishing the agreements and understandings of that time with those who claim to be 'hegemonic' on the international scene and want to impose themselves with violence and arrogance. The end of the Cold War brought about a revision of these balances, but "this had to be done professionally, with patience, respecting the interests of all countries and with a spirit of responsibility", while the euphoria of one's own "absolute superiority, a contemporary form of absolutism", even accompanied by "low level of culture and brazenness" led to the current situation, and there was no other way but military intervention.
So it was not for the Donbass and Crimea, but to restore world equilibrium that the war in Ukraine began. Putin recalled the humiliations of 30 years of 'Western absolutism', first against Belgrade, then in Iraq, Libya and Syria, all countries friendly to Russia, not to mention Afghanistan.
According to Putin, in Libya above all, Western violations of international law have led to "the invasion of terrorism and humanitarian catastrophe, and a civil war that knows no end", with tragic consequences for millions of people throughout North Africa, the Middle East and Europe itself. The campaigns in Iraq and Syria had similar effects: "Wherever the US comes to establish its order, the result is only bleeding wounds that do not heal".
Putin then recalls the offences suffered directly by Russia, which "we remember and will never forget", and the never-ending attempts to "use us for their interests, destroy our traditional values and impose on us their pseudo-values, which would have eaten us alive, us and all our people from within, those dimensions that they aggressively impose in their own countries and that lead directly to degradation and perversion, because they contradict the very nature of man, but we will not allow it, they will not succeed as they have never succeeded before".
Putin concluded listing the tragedies of the 20th century and the merits of the Soviet Union in saving the entire world from Nazism, affirming the need to take on that mission again starting with Ukraine, "after the coup of 2014, eight years in which we tried in vain in every way to peacefully repair the damage". One could not stand still any longer, the Russian president concluded, "out of compassion for the people of the Donbass", to defend Russia and the entire world from the new "Nazi oppression" of the United States and its allies with the "strength of truth and love for the Fatherland, against the Empire of lies".