Center for Strategic Communication

[ by Charles Cameron — ignorant, open, a tad sceptical, and willing to learn ]

Praying for peace in the shadow of war


That video was from Lindsey Hilsum‘s Inside Ukraine: praying for peace in the shadow of war. There we read:

It was mid-morning as we drove up to the Ukrainian marine base at Perevalnoe. Russian soldiers were ranged along the wall and as I looked left I could see dozens of Russian military trucks in the lee of the hill where the Ukrainians normally do their training.

Suddenly I heard the sound of chanting. An Orthodox priest was approaching the soldiers with his golden casket of holy water. As he sang his incantations and sprayed the soldiers using a brush, local people ran alongside clapping. I wondered if the Russian soldiers thought God was on their side – most armies have believed that through history.

A few yards up the road, we came across a baffled young man looking at the scene wide-eyed “I’m not happy about this – who are these people? “I am Crimean, Russian and Ukrainian, I feel that I am all of these three, and I don’t want to be occupied.”



Here’s an extraordinary series of tweets from ITV’s Europe Editor, James Mates, a couple of days ago:

  • Russian soldiers and 20+ vehicles. Surrounding Ukrainian base at Perevalne in Crimea. Reported demanding surrender.
  • Extraordinary standoff. Ukraine soldiers defiant behind gates of Perevalne base. Won’t surrender.
  • Squad of Russian reinforcements arrive at Perevalne base where Ukraine troops surrounded. No sign of them moving in.
  • Surrounded Ukraine troops at Perevalne look young, frightened, hopelessly ill-equipped vs Russians.
  • Priest + Ru Orthodox choir sing chants, prayers outside surrounded Ukraine base, while 2 armies stand-off
  • Col i/csurrounded Ukraine base just returned from talks with Ru counterpart. Said ‘will be no shooting, no war’.
  • Pro-Russian civilians have come out to support Russian troops at Ukraine base now surrounded.
  • Troops in Perevalne base say they understand units surrounding them are Russian special forces base with Black Sea Fleet.
  • ArchBsp Clement of Ukraine orthodox church, stands at gates of surrounded base ‘to protect my people’.
  • **

    Here, I believe, we see Archbishop Clement of the Ukraine orthodox church standing at the gates of the surrounded base…

    Below, or opposite him, is His Holiness, Kirill, Patriarch of Moscow and All Rus’.


    An echange of notes:

    Locum Tenens of the Kiev metropolitan department sent a letter to Patriarch Kirill

    His Holiness, Kirill, Patriarch of Moscow and All Rus’

    Your Holiness !

    Today Ukraine is experiencing without exaggeration the most difficult moment in its recent history. After three months of the socio-political crisis , a bloody confrontation in the center of Kiev and the death of dozens of people, we were faced with another equally formidable challenge.

    On March 1 the officials of the Russian Federation made a statement about the possible introduction in Ukraine of a limited contingent of Russian troops . If this happens, Ukrainian and Russian people will be drawn into a confrontation that will have catastrophic consequences for our country .

    The Locum Tenens of the Kiev metropolitan department appeals to you, Your Holiness, with a request to do everything possible to avoid bloodshed in Ukraine. I ask you to raise your voice about preserving the integrity of the territory of the Ukrainian state.

    In this difficult hour we raise fervent prayers to our Lord Jesus Christ, that He by the prayers of His Blessed Mother save us from a collision between the fraternal Russian and Ukrainian peoples .

    Onufriv, Metropolitan Chernovtsy and Bukovina, Locum Tenens, Kiev metropolitan department

    And by return, so to speak:

    The Church prefers to avoid taking one side or another when it comes to political struggle, but what Kyrill, Patriarch of Moscow, wants to ensure is that there will be no deaths of civilians in Ukraine.

    “Dear Lord, I assure you and our Ukrainian flock that ? will do everything possible to convince those who have the power on their hands to prevent the death of innocent people. The blood of our brothers shed in Kiev and other Ukrainian cities, is the fruit of the hatred that the opposition members from different parties have allowed the enemy of the human race grow in their hearts. May God stop any hand raised with intent to cause pain and suffering and bless those who defend the world” Kyrill stated during his address to the Ukrainian flock and Locum Tenens Metropolitan of Kiev Metropolitan Onufriv throne.


    Three documents of interest, not comprehensible to me in their original language, nor via Google Translate:

  • In ROC hope that Ukraine will not be much to resist
  • UPTsMP asked Patriarch Kirill to prevent bloodshed in Ukraine
  • and this one, not quite so bad, which I’ve patched together a rough translation of, above:

  • Press Service of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church
  • **

    The British, Anglican, conservative blogger who names himself Archbishop Cranmer has an intriguing twist on the matter, invoking in his title today, Crimea – a battle of principalities and powers, one of the most fascinating verses in the entire Bible, to wit Ephesians 6.12:

    For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.

    His Grace, writing under the pseudonym of a martyred (21 March 1556) Archbishop of Canterbury, writes:

    While we view the current conflict through the distorted prism of secular European enlightenment and the primacy of economics, millions in the Ukraine are asserting their cultural and religious identities. On the one hand are the Western-inclined pro-EU reformists who are seeking liberation from oppression and corruption; on the other, the Eastern-facing pro-Russian conservatives are battling once again to preserve their way of life. And these are by no means the only hands: the region is fraught with complexities. But when priests sprinkle holy water over the troops, it is because they believe they are defending Christian orthodoxy and traditional morality against social liberal secularism and moral relativity. For many millions of ethnic Russians, this isn’t simply a question of gay rights and wrongs, but of good versus evil. It is about the spiritual and moral foundation of civilisation itself.

    So when we read the Daily Mail or listen to the BBC, we are understanding nothing of this crisis, for it is not a conflict of flesh and blood, but of principalities and powers. It is not about politics and opportunism, but morality and mission. Obama and Cameron can issue their warnings and demands that Putin respect ‘equality’ and ‘democratic values’, but when you believe you are called by God to do His holy work, a pesky liberal president and a devalued prime minister are of very little significance at all.


    A happier picture to close with?


    Ah, but other issues cropped and popped up on my screen — like Judaism and Neo-Nazism…

    Under the title The ex-Israeli soldier who led a Kiev fighting unit, Haaretz reportd a few days back:

    Delta says the Kremlin is using the anti-Semitism card falsely to delegitimize the Ukrainian revolution, which is distancing Ukraine from Russia’s sphere of influence.

    “It’s bullshit. I never saw any expression of anti-Semitism during the protests, and the claims to the contrary were part of the reason I joined the movement. We’re trying to show that Jews care,” he said.

    Still, Delta’s reasons for not revealing his name betray his sense of feeling like an outsider. “If I were Ukrainian, I would have been a hero. But for me it’s better to not reveal my name if I want to keep living here in peace and quiet,” he said.

    Fellow Jews have criticized him for working with Svoboda. “Some asked me if instead of ‘Shalom’ they should now greet me with a ‘Sieg heil.’ I simply find it laughable,” he said. But he does have frustrations related to being an outsider. “Sometimes I tell myself, ‘What are you doing? This is not your army. This isn’t even your country.’”


    Svoboda, the flag…

    To what extent is the battle here one of ex-Nazis fighting ex-Commies?

    I don’t of course know, and y’all may have strong opinions. Knowing how hard it was for almost anyone to understand Afghanistan, for instance, and how ignorant I am myself of the former Soviet sphere, I won’t hold my breath for accuracy, certainty, or concensus. But I’ll read and listen.

    Read, mark, know, and inwardly digest.

    Please educate me.