President Putin is seeking help from a higher power in a bid to recruit more soldiers for his war in Ukraine.
Ukrainian security sources said the Russian Orthodox Church has created ‘private military companies’ in order to train and sign up more troops for Putin’s ill-fated crusade.
According to Sky News the Secret Service of Ukraine (SBU) wrote on the messaging site Telegram that the church in Russia was “engaged in the recruitment and combat training of mercenaries for the war against Ukraine”.
The SBU said adverts from the Russian church wanted recruits from backgrounds where “men had already served in military units”, perhaps raising the spectre of enlisting older retired soldiers.
It added: “After enlisting the mercenaries in the ranks of the Moscow Church PMC, they undergo a course of military-tactical and fire training under the guidance of instructors from the Russian special services.”
The news comes as Ukraine announced it had overwhelmingly voted to effectively ban the Ukrainian Orthodox Church over its ties to Moscow.
Many Ukrainians remain suspicious of the Orthodox church in their own country and whether it has fully cut ties with Moscow Patriarch Kirill, who has strongly supported the war as a metaphysical battle against Western liberalism.
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Ukraine votes to ‘ban’ Orthodox Church over ties to Moscow
Ukraine’s parliament voted overwhelmingly to advance legislation seen as effectively banning the Ukrainian Orthodox Church over its ties to Moscow, despite the church’s insistence that it is fully independent and supportive of Ukraine’s fight against Russian invaders.
The Verkhovna Rada, or parliament, voted 267-15 on the measure, which requires further voting before it gets finalised and reaches the desk of President Volodymyr Zelenskyy. The legislation would prohibit the activities of religious organisations “that are affiliated with the centers of influence of a religious organisation, the management center of which is located outside of Ukraine in a state that carries out armed aggression against Ukraine.”
That is seen as directly targeting the Ukrainian Orthodox Church, one of two rival Orthodox bodies in the country, where a majority of citizens identify as Orthodox.
The UOC has historically been affiliated with the Moscow Patriarchate. It declared its full independence from Moscow in May 2022, three months after the Russian invasion of Ukraine, and has repeatedly declared its loyalty and called on members to fight for Ukraine. Its leader, Metropolitan Onufry, said earlier this month that it’s the “sacred duty” of every believer to defend Ukraine.
But many Ukrainians remain suspicious of the church and whether it has fully cut ties with Moscow Patriarch Kirill, who has strongly supported the war as a metaphysical battle against Western liberalism.
A government study earlier this year disputed the Ukrainian Orthodox Church’s declaration of independence. The State Service of Ukraine for Ethnopolitics and Freedom of Conscience said after examining the UOC’s governing documents that the church remains a structural unit of the Russian Orthodox Church.
Putin in trouble over potential Ukraine attack into key Russia territory
Putin’s troops are on high alert after Ukraine counteroffensive troops were seen operating ‘at a larger scale than previously documented’ on the east bank of Kherson by the Dnipro River.
The US based thinktank, the Institute for the Study of War, has cited a prominent Russian military blogger, who expressed concern about a potential Ukrainian offensive across the Dnipro River this year into Russian-held territory, and even went as far as to ‘escalate his warnings’ in September.
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