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Putin’s whirlwind Middle East tour heralds Russia’s role as preeminent regional power

Russia’s president visited Syria, Egypt, and Turkey in less than 48 hours, solidifying strong new relations with each country

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(New Eastern Outlook) – Over the last couple of days, Russian President Vladimir Putin conducted a series of visits back-to-back, visiting Syria, Egypt and Turkey in less than 48 hours. In spite of the brief nature of these visits, Russia’s leader managed to hold extensive discussions with the heads of the above mentioned states, while Egypt and Turkey saw a round of full-scale negotiations with representatives of each nation’s respective business leaders, assisted by foreign ministries and ministers of defense. This fact became apparent when the composition of the Russian delegation was revealed, which included Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, Defense Minister Sergey Shoygu, several economic ministers, heads of major state corporations, including Rostec, Rosatom and Gazprom.

In Syria, Putin has not just congratulated Russia’s military for its success in destroying ISIS, confirming the intention of the Russian Federation to significantly reduce its military presence in the Syrian Arab Republic, but had a thorough discussion with Syria’s President Bashar al-Assad about the prospects of a political settlement in Syria. Indeed, the conflict in Syria won’t automatically end and it is necessary to organize an inter-Syrian dialogue in Damascus, while inviting the representatives of the united opposition. However, the task at hand is anything but simple, given the irreconcilable spirit of the opposition regarding the political fate of Bashar al-Assad and its preasumption that “Assad must go.” But here there lies a legitimate question – why so? After all, it was the army under the president of Syria’s command that, with the support of external allies such as Russia and Iran, succeeded in putting an end to ISIS and preserving the sovereignty of the country, despite attempts made by a handful of regional forces to divide it into enclaves and quasi-states. That is why Putin and al-Assad agreed to carry on their efforts to bring all parties together at a congress on inter-Syrian reconciliation in Sochi in February of 2018, together with Ankara and Tehran. They have also discussed issues related to the restoration of the destroyed infrastructure and the economy of Syria.

Putin’s trip to Cairo had clearly predefined priorities – the development of trade and economic relations, tourism, and military cooperation. But the parties had to discuss the Palestinian problem in light of the recent decision by the US under President Donald Trump to transfer the US Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, recognizing this city as the capital of Israel.

The economic situation in Egypt is fairly complicated these days, aggravated by internal problems associated with the operations run by a handful of terrorist organizations across the Sinai and the Suez Canal zone. The situation is further complicated by the continious influence of the Muslim Brotherhood, a radical organization supported by Qatar. It is extremely important for Egypt to resume the flow of its tourism industry in order to sustain its economy, which, as of now, is in a state of stagnation. This puts Moscow in an advantageous position over Cairo, but it is difficult to say whether Egypt will deal with a number of issues, including the possibility to station Russian warships in Egyptian ports such as Mersa Matruh, no more than 70 miles away from the border with Libya. Moscow may also be inclined to create an air base in Egypt, a development welcomed by representatives of both states. In addition, it is extremely important for the Russian Federation to use Egypt as a launching pad for its return to Libya, requiring assistance lent to Libyan Field Marshal Khalifa Belqasim Haftar.

And the resumption of tourism in Egypt from Russia is virtually impossible without the resumption of air services between the two states, including charter flights to Sharm El Sheikh and Hurghada, tourism that once brought billions of dollars to the Egyptian treasury, accompanied by loans and infrastructure projects, the construction of nuclear power plants and assembly plants, all of which Moscow can bring to the table with its renewed friendship. As for Moscow, a full-fledged and versatile military base, as close as possible to the future theater of military operations in Libya would be a prized possession. The consequences of these talks will determine the future course of Libya’s ongoing conflict. It must be remembered destabilization, followed by military intervention carried out by the US, NATO and Qatar back in 2011 resulted in the destruction of Libya finalized with the brutal murder of the rightful leader of the country – Muammar Gaddafi. At the time, Russia lost at least 25 billion dollars overnight in lost profits, as a large number of deals with Gazprom, Russian Railways,  and Rosoboronexport remained unfulfilled.

It is too early to talk about what kind of an agreement could be reached between Russia and Egypt on all of these issues. Putin announced that Russia was prepared to resume air traffic with Egypt, but Russia’s Transport Minister specified that “this would primarily depend on the Egyptian side.” However, although Egypt is primarily interested in attracting Russian tourists, the problem, in general, remained unchanged. Those who are making decisions are perfectly aware of the who and why behind a Russian airplane explosion over the Sinai back in 2015, as this terrorist attack was staged by local militants enjoying Qatari support.

Egypt must navigate tricky conflicting interests, by supporting Moscow and its interest in restoring stability to Libya, and in exchange , restoring the flow of tourists from Russia, but at the same time avoiding any possibility to step on a toe of Egypt’s most important ally – Saudi Arabia, which finances the regime of Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, allowing him to stay afloat and counter the threat of the Muslim Brotherhood associated with Qatar. And there’s little doubt that Riyadh would be pleased with Russia’s arrival in yet another part of the Middle East. But Saudi Arabia may as well look at this situation in a different light, as Qatar has enjoyed a lot of influence in Libya since 2011, and we must not forget that “everything that is bad for Qatar is good for Saudi Arabia.” As for Moscow’s relations with Doha, they don’t seem likely to improve anytime in the forseable future, which is evident by a strange deal regarding shares of Rosneft, which first were transferred to Qatar almost free of charge, and then transferred to the Chinese. One can also remember the beginning of the blockade of Qatar by the Persian Gulf monarchies, when Turkey stood up for Doha, but Russia distanced itself from the situation, despite a number of meetings on this issue conducted at the highest levels.

If Saudi Arabia receives guarantees that Moscow’s interests in Libya will not act against the interests of the Kingdom, and at the same time, the stalemate may be resolved. But cooperation can only go so far, since Riyadh has learned from its Syrian experience, where Moscow destroyed its militants. Back then the Turks were even forced to shoot down a Russian bomber and Riyadh amassed a formidable military force in early 2016 in an attempt to demonstrate that it was ready for the invasion of Syria, before both backed down.

So far the results of Putin’s trip to Egypt are yet to become clear. The Egyptians obviously took a pause for a chance to hold discussions with their partners, and therefore there is no final decision on the key issue from the Russian side on the renewal of tourism. There are promises, but there is no decision yet. Apparently, everything will become clear after New Year’s.

Another topic of Putin’s talks in Egypt could be the issue of unhindered passage of Russian transport ships through the Suez Canal to supply the future Russian military base in Sudan. According to several reports, Russia’s military experts have already conducted an evaluation of Sudan with the conclusion that such a base can be built near Port Sudan – the most important port structure of the country. The parameters of the base are not yet known, but it obviously should be able to accommodate military aircraft. The problem is that the distances from Port Sudan to possible conflict areas – in Libya and Sudan itself – are significant: 800 miles to the border with South Sudan and more than 1,200 miles to Libya which is beyond the operational range of the aircraft used in Syria . So one can only deploy Russia’s long-range aviation to such a base. Saudi Arabia has already given its consent to the construction of the Russian base, so it is clear that it does not threaten Saudi interests in the region, which automatically means that same can be said about America’s interests. Moreover, the Saudis have in the immediate vicinity a complex of  their own military airfields. On the Red Sea, such a base can only threaten Qatar and its tankers, as there are no other Saudi enemies in the region.

As for the political part of the talks, it went well, given that there is no disagreement between Moscow and Cairo over either the Palestinian issue or Syria. The commitment to the resolutions of the UN Security Council on Palestine and Jerusalem was reaffirmed by both parties. For Abdel Fattah el-Sisi this is especially important, given that the local population can take to the streets at any given moment, protesting steps taken by Washington and Tel-Aviv, and then these protests can quickly become anti-government. In such a situation Saudi Arabia will be unable to assist the Egyptian government.

For Russia, the Russian president’s visit to Egypt was very successful, confirming Moscow’s desire to stay in the region after concluding its operations in Syria.

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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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