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Moscow outmaneuvers Washington’s Kurdistan Mideast destabilization project

Kurdistan’s Barzani has rapidly lost power while Russia has rapidly gained influence in the region

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(New Eastern Outlook) – For the moment it looks as if Russian three-dimensional geopolitical chess moves in the turbulent Middle East have thrown a giant monkey wrench into Washington plans to create an independent Kurdistan. In September the Kurdish population in Iraq voted apparently overwhelmingly for creation of an independent Kurdistan that would control some of the richest oil fields of Iraq in and around Kirkuk as well. Today, a month later, Massoud Barzani, the US and Israel-backed Kurd leader, is facing a major loss of powers from the Iraq Kurd Parliament. In the middle of the fast-changing developments—whose outcome is decisive to far more than the Middle East—is Russia and the Russian state-owned oil giant, Rosneft.

Contrary to the slick US and EU propaganda that has portrayed former President Massoud Barzani and his Kurdish Democratic Party (KDP) as champions of western-style democracy, Barzani is a clan warlord who has ruthlessly pursued ethnic cleansing against a Yazidi and Christian Assyrian minority in order to gain control of oil lands those peoples had historically occupied until 2014. The Barzani clan and his Peshmerga military arm were trained beginning the late 1960s by Israeli Mossad Lt Colonel Tzuri Sagi, initially to go against Saddam Hussein’s rule. Israeli ties to the Barzani clan have remained since.

Since that time the Massoud Barzani clan has built a dictatorial power in the Kurdish region of Iraq using assassination, corruption and since 2014, control of sales of Iraqi oil via Turkey. Such is Barzani’s mafia-power, despite the fact that his term as President of the Iraqi Kurdistan ended in 2015 and the Kurd regional parliament refused to renew it, he has ruled since without any legal basis by preventing the parliament from convening and formally ousting him. Massoud’s son controls the region’s security council and all all military and civilian intelligence.

Barzani, with open backing of Israel’s Netanyahu, despite major opposition from most of the world, went ahead with a referendum for an independent Kurdish state. It was to have been the beginning of a domino-style reshaping of the geopolitical map of the entire Middle East along the lines of US Army Col. Ralph Peters’ 2006 Armed Forces Journal, “Blood Borders: How a Better Middle East Would Look.”

Since the British and French carved up the oil-rich lands of the collapsing Ottoman Empire in the secret Sykes-Picot Agreement of 1916 during the First World War, the ethnic peoples known as Kurds were divided, deliberately, between the borders of Iran, Iraq, Syria and of Turkey. To now create a single Kurdish state would destabilize the entire region and beyond. The issues among the various ethnic Kurds themselves are as well vast with differences in Kurd dialects sometimes being as vast as that between English and modern German. The political differences as well are significant.

Had the US and Israel succeeded in forming an independent Kurdish state in Iraq as a precursor to a Greater Kurdistan of some 23 million people, it would have thrown the entire region from Iran to Iraq to Syria and Turkey into war, the kind of really big war the Pentagon neoconservatives have salivated over since they concocted the fake proof in 2003 that Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction.

Interesting to note, the same California PR firm, Russo Marsh & Rogers, that created Move America Forward (MAF), as a pro-war lobby for the 2003 war against Saddam Hussein, using fabrications to whip up popular support in the US for war in Iraq, is the PR firm used since 2005 by the Barzani clan to promote the idea in the US that Kirkuk oil should be part of an independent Kurdistan.

One month later…

One month later and how the Iraqi Kurd landscape has changed. In a blitz military action that was clearly supported by a strong anti-Barzani faction of the Kurds, the Baghdad army retook Kirkuk and the key oilfields occupied since 2014 illegally by Barzani’s forces.

This meant that the financial key to Barzani and Tel Aviv’s “independent” Iraqi Kurdistan, the oil revenues from Kirkuk and Bai Hasaan fields of around 1.2 million barrels per day are no longer in the hands of the Barzani mafia.

After Barzani’s gang took control of the Kirkuk oil-rich region in 2014, driving hundreds of thousands of ethnic Yazidis and Assyrian Christians from their homes, US oil interests helped to build Barzani’s power. Rex Tillerson as CEO of ExxonMobil defied the Baghdad government and invested in the Kurd region of Iraq along with Chevron after 2014 as a clear part of the US preparation for an independent oil-rich Kurdistan.

Amidst the chaos of the conquests of ISIS across Iraq and Syria after 2014, a conquest that was initially facilitated by Barzani in his bid to grab Kirkuk oil, Barzani’s clan made an illegal deal with the family of Turkish President Erdogan to sell the oil via Turkish pipelines where it was sold on to Israel earning Barzani’s clan billions of dollars. By August 2015 the Jerusalem Post reported that as much as 77% of Israel oil imports were coming from Kurd-occupied Kirkuk region, via pipeline from Turkish Ceyhan to the Israel oil port at Ashkelon.

Following Barzani’s bombastic declaration of a 93% independence referendum yes vote, the Iraq government, as did others including that of Turkey and Iran, declared the vote illegal. Baghdad swiftly moved to impose sanctions on the Iraqi Kurdish region. Erdogan’s Turkey, fearing a spread of Kurdish independence to Turkish Kurds, a significant minority bordering Syria and Iraq, cut off Kurd pipeline flows.

Then Baghdad held secret talks with the opposition Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) of the recently deceased Jalal Talabani. PUK had opposed the idea of referendum, and it was their soldiers who largely controlled Kirkuk.

According to Bafel Talabani, the son of recently-deceased Jalal Talabani, just before the Iraqi forces, in a joint operation of the Iraqi army and the Shiite Hashd al-Shaabi militias were moving to retake Kirkuk, a deal was reached with Baghdad to peacefully withdraw PUK-controlled Peshmerga forces from the city, opening the way for dialogue and saving thousands of lives. Talabani called the decision of Barzani to go ahead with a referendum, despite clear warnings of the consequences, a “colossal mistake.”

On October 29, Massoud Barzani announced he would step down as (illegitimate) President of the Iraqi Kurdish region, acknowledging the utter failure of the Israel-backed referendum ploy.

Russian Oil Geopolitics

A crucial if little-noted factor in making the strategic shift in the geopolitical energy field of the Iraqi and Syrian Kurdish regions in the last months has been Russia, specifically Russia’s giant state-owned Rosneft.

Surprising many, just after the September 25 Iraqi Kurd referendum vote, Rosneft CEO, Igor Sechin announced that Rosneft had agreed to buy control of Iraqi Kurdistan’s main oil pipeline, boosting its investment in the autonomous region to $4 billion according to remarks by Sechin on October 18 at a conference this author attended in Italy two days before the signing of the deal.

Rosneft plans to increase pipeline capacity to 950,000 bpd. Under the agreement Rosneft will control the majority 60% with the rest held by the current operator, the Kurdish KAR Group in Erbil. In addition to investing $3.5 billion into the Kurdish pipeline, Rosneft earlier this year lent the regional Kurdish government $1.2 billion to ease a budget crisis, making Russia far and away the largest foreign investor in the Iraqi Kurdish region.

The same day, October 19, the predominantly Kurdish Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), strongly backed by US weapons and training, in the ongoing war in Syria’s oil and gas-rich Deir Ezzor province, made a surprise deal to turn over the rich gas field to troops of the Russian Ground Forces, according to a report in the Beirut Almasdar News.

The report that the Kurdish SDF agreed to turn over Al-Tabiya gas field it had just taken from ISIS control on September 23 suggests more than a minor role of Russia in both Syrian and in Iraqi oil and gas developments as well, of course, in Kurdish developments. The Al-Tabiya gas field, formerly operated by Conoco of the US had the largest capacity of any field in Syria, capable of producing 13 million cubic meters of natural gas per day. The Almasdar News report states that the Russians will turn control back to the Syrian Damascus government. The deal followed secret talks between Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Mikhail Bogdanov, Special Presidential Envoy for the Middle East in the self-declared Kurdish autonomous zone of Rojava to meet with Kurdish and Syrian leaders in the northern city of Qamishli.

On October 25 Iraqi Prime Minister Haider Al Abadi met with Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan in Ankara, a significant thaw in their relations. The US-Israeli-backed Kurdistan independence ploy of Barzani has completely backfired. Again, Washington geopolitical stupidity and neoconservative war mania has driven hitherto geopolitical foes to cooperate in ways unimaginable just three years ago.

Russia has shrewdly played a game of geopolitical chess. Moscow knows that if Rosneft holds the trump card in the Iraqi Kurdish energy economy, the Kurds have no option to get their oil out but via Turkey. Two years ago, before Erdogan offered a rapprochement to Russia over the shooting of a Russian jet over Syria, Turkey was financing ISIS against the regime of Bashar al Assad and at the same time reportedly facilitating export sales of oil from Syria via a Turkish state company. Qatar was spending billions of dollars to finance Muslim Brotherhood, ISIS and other Salafist terror groups in Syria. Now Turkey has to deal with Rosneft for Iraqi gas and with Damascus where Bashar al Assad remains firmly entrenched with Russian support. And Turkey seems to be doing just that, one reason for the growing hostility between Ankara and Washington.

Further setback for Washington is the development around Qatar. Since Washington and Israel goaded the incalculable Saudis last summer into the laughable idea of creating an “Arab NATO” of Sunni oil states (plus Israel), aimed at Iran, that “Arab NATO” as its first act imposed an economic embargo against former Gulf Cooperation Council ally and Muslim Brotherhood-backed Qatar. Qatar was targeted by the Saudis because they had openly sought the cooperation of former arch foe Iran in building a common gas route to the EU. Now Qatar is working with Iran, Turkey, Russia and China in a new geopolitical alignment opposed by Saudi Arabia.

Russia, placing herself in the midst of the Kurdish regions of Iraq and Syria has managed a brilliant political coup against the Anglo-American and Israeli designs for a Greater Kurdistan and a NATO-controlled Greater Middle East.

Checkmate! Washington. You have just lost the Middle East. The unfolding of further events with Russia and Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, are just a matter of time, as the unprecedented recent visit of the Saudi King to Moscow to ask for Russian weaponry suggests.

The neocons around D.J. Trump and his neophyte son-in-law, 36-year-old “Senior Advisor” Jared Kushner, and the increasingly pathetic ExxonMobil Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, are a sad bunch. The world has tired of their wars of destruction. It’s time to build up new.

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Massacre in Crimea kills dozens, many in critical condition

According to preliminary information, the incident was caused by a gas explosion at a college facility in Kerch, Crimea.

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“We are clarifying the information at the moment. Preliminary figures are 50 injured and 10 dead. Eight ambulance crews are working at the site and air medical services are involved,” the press-service for the Crimean Ministry of Health stated.

Medics announced that at least 50 people were injured in the explosion in Kerch and 25 have already been taken to local hospital with moderate wounds, according to Sputnik.

Local news outlets reported that earlier in the day, students at the college heard a blast and windows of the building were shattered.

Putin Orders that Assistance Be Provided to Victims of Blast in Kerch – Kremlin Spokesman

“The president has instructed the Ministry of Health and the rescue services to take emergency measures to assist victims of this explosion, if necessary, to ensure the urgent transportation of seriously wounded patients to leading medical institutions of Russia, whether in Moscow or other cities,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitriy Peskov said.

The president also expressed his condolences to all those affected by the tragic incident.

Manhunt Underway in Kerch as FSB Specialists Investigate Site of Explosion – National Anti-Terrorist Committee

The site of the blast that rocked a city college in Kerch is being examined by FSB bomb disposal experts and law enforcement agencies are searching for clues that might lead to the arrest of the perpetrators, the National Anti Terrorism Committee said in a statement.

“Acting on orders from the head of the NAC’s local headquarters, FSB, Interior Ministry, Russian Guards and Emergency Ministry units have arrived at the site. The territory around the college has been cordoned off and the people inside the building evacuated… Mine-disposal experts are working at the site and law enforcement specialists are investigating,” the statement said.

Terrorist Act Considered as Possible Cause of Blast in Kerch – Kremlin Spokesman

“The tragic news that comes from Kerch. Explosion. The president was informed … The data on those killed and the number of injured is constantly updated,” Peskov told reporters.

“[The version of a terrorist attack] is being considered,” he said.

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Russian Orthodox Church officially breaks ties with Constantinople

Biggest separation in almost 1,000 years as world’s largest Orthodox Church cuts communion with Constantinople over legitimizing schismatics.

Seraphim Hanisch

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The schism between the Russian Orthodox Church and the Ecumenical Patriarchate became official today, October 15, 2018, as the Russian Holy Synod reviewed the recent granting of communion to two schismatic groups in Ukraine, pursuant to Constantinople’s intent to grant autocephaly (full self-rule, or independence) to the agglomeration of these groups.

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RT reported that the Synod ruled that any further clerical relations with Constantinople are impossible, given the current conditions. Metropolitan Hilarion Alfeyev told journalists today about the breach in relations:

“A decision about the full break of relations with the Constantinople Patriarchate has been taken at a Synod meeting” that is currently been held in the Belarusian capital of Minsk, Hilarion said, as cited by TASS.

The move comes days after the Synod of the Constantinople Patriarchate decided to eventually grant the so-called autocephaly to the Ukrainian Orthodox Church, thus making the clerical organization, which earlier enjoyed a broad autonomy within the Moscow Patriarchate, fully independent.

The Moscow Patriarchate also said that it would not abide by any decisions taken by Constantinople and related to the status of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church. “All these decisions are unlawful and canonically void,” Hilarion said, adding that “the Russian Orthodox Church does not recognize these decisions and will not follow them.”

At the same time, the Russian Church expressed its hope that “a common sense will prevail” and Constantinople will change its decision. However, it still accused the Ecumenical Patriarch of initiating the “schism.”

The marks the most significant split in the Orthodox Church since the Great Schism of 1054, in which Rome excommunicated Constantinople, a breach between the Roman Catholics and Orthodox which has persisted ever since then, becoming hardened and embittered after the Roman Catholic armies sacked Constantinople during the Fourth Crusade in 1204.

Many other local Orthodox Churches expressed support for the Moscow Patriarchate’s position prior to today’s announcement, but the break in relations between these two churches does not have any known affect on local churches who hold communion with both Moscow and the Ecumenical Patriarchate at this time.

The website Orthochristian.com ran the entire statement of the Holy Synod regarding this situation. We offer a brief summary of statements here, taken from that source and patriarcha.ru, adding emphasis.

With deepest pain, the Holy Synod of the Russian Orthodox Church received the message of the Patriarchate of Constantinople published on October 11, 2018 about the decisions adopted by the Holy Synod of the Patriarchate of Constantinople: on the confirmation of the intention to “grant autocephaly to the Ukrainian Church”; on the opening of the “stavropegion” of the Patriarch of Constantinople in Kiev; on the “restoration in the hierarchal or priestly rank” of the leaders of the Ukrainian schism and their followers and the “return of their faithful to Church communion”; and on the “cancellation of the action” of the conciliar charter of the Patriarchate of Constantinople in 1686 concerning the transfer of the Kiev Metropolia to the Moscow Patriarchate

The Synod of the Church of Constantinople made these decisions unilaterally, ignoring the calls of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church and the entirety of the Russian Orthodox Church, as well as the fraternal Local Orthodox Churches, and their primates and bishops for pan-Orthodox discussion of the issue.

Entering into communion with those who have departed into schism, let alone those who have been excommunicated from the Church, is tantamount to departing into schism and is severely condemned by the canons of the holy Church: “If any one of the bishops, presbyters, or deacons, or any of the clergy shall be found communicating with excommunicated persons, let him also be excommunicated, as one who brings confusion on the order of the Church” (Canon 2 of the Council of Antioch; Canon 10, 11 of the Holy Apostles).

The decision of the Patriarchate of Constantinople on the “restoration” of the canonical status and the reception into communion of the former Metropolitan Philaret Denisenko, excommunicated from the Church, ignores a number of successive decisions of the Bishops’ Councils of the Russian Orthodox Church, the legitimacy of which are beyond doubt.

By the decision of the Bishops’ Council of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church in Kharkov of May 27, 1992, Metropolitan Philaret (Denisenko) was removed from the Kiev Cathedra and was banned from the clergy for not fulfilling the oath made by him before the cross and the Gospel at the previous Bishops’ Council of the Russian Orthodox Church.

By its ruling of June 11,1992, the Bishops’ Council of the Russian Orthodox Church, confirmed the decision of the Kharkov Council and expelled Philaret Denisenko from his rank, depriving him of every degree of the priesthood on the following charges: “Cruel and arrogant attitude to the subordinate clergy, dictatorialness, and intimidation (Tit. 1:7-8; Canon 27 of the Holy Apostles); introducing temptation among the faithful by his behavior and personal life (Matthew 18:7; Canon 3 of the First Ecumenical Council, Canon 5 of the Sixth Ecumenical Council); oath-breaking (Canon 25 of the Holy Apostles); public slander and blasphemy against the Bishops’ Council (Canon 6 of the Second Ecumenical Council); the celebration of clerical functions, including ordinations, in a state of suspension (Canon 28 of the Holy Apostles); the perpetration of a schism in the Church (Canon 15 of the First-Second Council).” All ordinations performed by Philaret in a suspended state since May 27, 1992, and the punishments imposed by him, were declared invalid.

Despite repeated calls for repentance, after the deprivation of his hierarchal rank Philaret Denisenko continued his schismatic activity, including within the bounds of other Local Churches. By the ruling of the Bishops’ Council of the Russian Orthodox Church of 1997, he was given over to anathema.

The aforesaid decisions were recognized by all the Local Orthodox Churches, including the Church of Constantinople.

… Now, after more than two decades, the Patriarchate of Constantinople has changed its position for political reasons.

… St. Nikodemos of the Holy Mountain, in his Pedalion, which is an authoritative source of ecclesiastical-canonical law of the Church of Constantinople, interprets Canon 9 of the Fourth Ecumenical Council, rejecting the false opinion on the right of Constantinople to consider appeals from other Churches: “The Primate of Constantinople does not have the right to act in the dioceses and provinces of other Patriarchs, and this rule did not give him the right to take appeals on any matter in the Ecumenical Church… “ Listing a whole range of arguments in favor of this interpretation, referring to the practice of the decisions of the Ecumenical Councils, St. Nikodemos concludes: “At present … the Primate of Constantinople is the first, the only, and the last judge over the metropolitans subordinate to him—but not over those who are subject to the rest of the Patriarchs. For, as we said, the last and universal judge of all the Patriarchs is the Ecumenical Council and no one else.” It follows from the above that the Synod of the Church of Constantinople does not have canonical rights to withdraw judicial decisions rendered by the Bishops’ Council of the Russian Orthodox Church.

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Patriarch Bartholomew lifts anathemas on schismatics in Ukraine (VIDEO)

Most of the Orthodox world is in strong opposition to this move by Patriarch Bartholomew, whose motivations seem not to be of Christ.

Seraphim Hanisch

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The biggest news in the Eastern Orthodox world in recent times occurred on Thursday, October 11, 2018. The Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople, Bartholomew I, lifted the anathemas against two schismatic Ukrainian Churches and their leaders, paving the way to the creation of a fully independent Ukrainian national Orthodox Church.

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This announcement was given in English and is shown here in video with the textual transcript following:

“Presided by His All Holiness the Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew, the Holy and Sacred Synod convened for its regular session from October 9 to 11, 2018 in order to examine and discuss items on its agenda. The Holy Synod discussed in particular and at length, the ecclesiastical mater of Ukraine in the presence of His Excellency Archbishop Daniel of Pamphilon and His Grace Bishp Ilarion of Edmonon, Patriarchal Exarchs to Ukraine, and following extensive deliberations decreed (emphasis added):

First, to renew the decision already made, that the Ecumenical Patriarchate proceed to the granting of autocephaly to the Church of Ukraine;

Second, to re-establish at this moment the stavropegion of the Ecumenical Patriarchate in Kiev—one of its many starvorpegion in Ukraine that existed there always;

Third, to accept and review the petitions of appeal of Philaret Denisenko and Makary Maletich and their followers who found themselves in schism not for dogmatic reasons, in accordance with the canonical prerogatives of the Patriarchate of Constantinople to receive such petitions by hierarchs and other clergy of all the autocephalous Churches. Thus, the above mentioned have been canonically reinstated to their hierarchical or priestly rank, and their faithful have been restored to communion with the Church;

Fourth, to revoke the legal binding of the Synodal letter of the year 1686, issued for the circumstances of that time, which granted the right through economia to the Patriarch of Moscow to ordain the Metropolitan of Kiev elected by the clergy-laity assembly of his eparchy, who would commemorate the Ecumenical Patriarch as the first hierarch at any celebration, proclaiming and affirming his canonical dependence to the Mother Church of Constantinople;

Fifth, to appeal to all sides involved that they avoid appropriation of churches, monasteries, and other properties as well as every other act of violence and retaliation so that he peace and love of Christ may prevail.”

There are a few things that must be said about what this declaration is not before we get to the matter of what the points of actually are. The point of reference is the strict letter of the text above itself.

  • This is not a granting of autocephaly (full independent self-rule status) like the fourteen universally canonical Orthodox jurisdictions in the world. However, it is a huge step towards this status.
  • As far as Constantinople is concerned, Filaret Denisenko, the leader and “Patriarch” of the “Kyiv Patriarchate of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church” and Makary, the “Metropolitan” of the “Ukrainian Orthodox Autocephalous Church”, and all their faithful are now restored to communion. The statement says that this applies to “The Church” which may be trying to state that these two men (and all the faithful that they lead), are now in communion with the entirety of canonical Orthodoxy, but more likely, this may be a carefully worded statement to say they now are in communion with Constantinople alone.
  • There is an official call for the cessation of the violence directed against the Moscow Patriarchate parishes and communities, who are the only canonically recognized Orthodox Church in Ukraine, and who are also the largest by far in that country. The Kyiv Patriarchate and Uniate (Roman oriented) Greek Catholics in Ukraine have gone on record for seizing MP church properties, often by force, with neo-Nazi sympathizers and other radical Ukrainian nationalists. So this official call to cease the violence is now a matter of public record.

However, the reaction has been far less civil than the clergy wished for.

Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko: “Expressing his view of the Moscow Patriarchate, Poroshenko added, “This is a great victory of the God-loving Ukrainian people over the Moscow demons, the victory of Good over Evil, the victory of Light over Darkness.”’

Perhaps this is the reason Metropolitan Onuphry of Ukraine (exarch under the Moscow Patriarchate) has been labeled an enemy of Ukraine and is now receiving death threats. Very civil.

Poroshenko’s statement is all the more bizarre, considering that it has been Ukrainian ultra-nationalists that have been violently attacking Moscow – related parishes in Ukraine. This has been corroborated by news sources eager to pin the blame on Russia, such as the U.K. Guardian.

The Union of Orthodox Journalists, based in Kiev and supportive of the Moscow Patriarchate, has been under intense cyber attack since October 11th, when the EP’s announcement was issued.

Ukrainian Orthodox Church (Moscow Patriarchate) Chancellor, Metropolitan Anthony of Boryspil and Brovary: “What happened at the Synod in Istanbul yesterday shocked the entire Orthodox world. It seems the Patriarchate of Constantinople is consciously embarking on a path of schism in world Orthodoxy. Patriarch Bartholomew ignored the calls of the Local Churches to convene a meeting of the primates to work out a common and conciliar solution to the Ukrainian Church issue and unilaterally made very serious but erroneous decisions. I hope the Orthodox world will give this action an objective evaluation… Having received the schismatics into communion, Patriarch Bartholomew did not make them canonical, but has himself embarked on the path of schism. The schismatics remain schismatics. They did not receive any autocephaly or tomos. It seems they have lost even that independence, although non-canonical, that they had and which they always emphasized.”

Metropolitan Rostislav of the Czech Lands and Slovakia:“The Orthodox world recognizes the only canonical primate of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church—His Beatitude Metropolitan Onuphry of Kiev and All Ukraine. This fact was repeatedly mentioned and confirmed by the primate of the Great Church of Christ His Holiness Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew on behalf of all present at the Synaxis of the Primates of the Local Orthodox Churches that was held in Chambésy (Switzerland) from January 21 to 27, 2016. Therefore, any attempt to legalize the Ukrainian schismatics by the state authorities should be strongly condemned by all the primates of the Local Orthodox Churches.

Patriarch Irinej of Serbia wrote two letters to the Ecumenical Patriarch, advocating that the provision of a new autocephaly is possible only with the consent of all local Orthodox Churches. According to Sedmitza.ru (Translation by Pravoslavie.ru),

“In these letters, it was very clearly stated that the granting of autocephaly cannot be the prerogative the Patriarchate of Constantinople alone, that new autocephalies must be created only with the consent of all the Local Orthodox Churches, as the Holy Synod of Antioch also said in its recent statement.”

Pat. Irinej also warned the Patriarchate of Constantinople against making such major decisions unilaterally, because “it will not bring harmony and peace to the Ukrainian land, but, on the contrary, will cause new divisions and new schisms.”

The Holy Synod of Antioch, the oldest Orthodox Church, and actually the very first place where the disciples of Christ were even called “Christians” weighed in on the issue as well and they had several things to say:

“The fathers examined the general Orthodox situation. They stressed that the Church of Antioch expresses her deep worries about the attempts to change the boundaries of the Orthodox Churches through a new reading of history. She considers that resorting to a unilateral reading of history does not serve Orthodox unity. It rather contributes to the fueling of the dissensions and quarrels within the one Church. Thus, the Church of Antioch refuses the principle of establishing parallel jurisdictions within the canonical boundaries of the Patriarchates and the autocephalous Churches as a way to solve conflicts, or as a de facto situation in the Orthodox world.

To summarize, this move by Constantinople is not being warmly received by many, many people. Most of the local Churches are on record giving their reaction to this process. In brief, here is the list most of the Local Churches and a one or two word summary of their reactions.

Patriarchate of Georgia: Unilateral action is wrong; Constantinople and Moscow must cooperate and find a solution together.

Patriarchate of Jerusalem: recognizes Ukraine as a canonical territory of the Russian Orthodox Church alone, as do all other local Churches

Patriarchate of Alexandria and all Africa: The Church does not bow to politicians. Moscow-led church is the only canonical Church in Ukraine.

Archbishop of Cyprus: Decries the Ukrainian situation but offered to mediate a discussion between Moscow and Constantinople

Bulgarian Patriarchate: Interference of the State in Church affairs leads to serious and negative consequences for both.

Polish Orthodox Church: Metropolitan Sawa called for a council of Orthodox ruling hierarchs to discuss this situation.

Estonian Orthodox Church: Condemns Constantinople’s actions in Ukraine.

Greek Archdiocese of America: Supports Constantinople’s actions in Ukraine.

The Orthodox Church of Greece (Metropolitan Seraphim of Piraeus quoted): “Schismatics, as we know, are not the Church, and communion with them is forbidden by the Divine and holy canons and the Apostolic and Ecumenical Councils. Why then this persistence of the Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew in recognizing schismatics as an autocephalous Church? To provoke schisms and divisions in the one universal and Apostolic Church of Christ?”

Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia (ROCOR): Ceased commemoration of Constantinople, ceased concelebration with Constantinople.

This issue has also rocked the secular geopolitical world.

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