Patriarch Kirill Calls Russia’s War in Syria ‘Defensive’; Putin Attends Christmas Service

January 7, 2016
Screen grab from Rossiya 24 TV.

Patriarch of Moscow and All of Rus’ Kirill expressed support for Russia’s military operation in Syria, saying it was “defense of the Fatherland.”

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Patriarch Kirill Calls Russia’s War in Syria ‘Defensive’

Patriarch of Moscow and All of Rus’ Kirill expressed support for Russia’s military operation in Syria, saying it was “defense of the Fatherland” in an interview on Rossiya 1 TV on Russian Orthodox Christmas, reported (translated by The Interpreter):

“What is happening today in seemingly far-off Syria which in fact is not far away at all, it is our neighbor in the literal sense — that is defense of our Fatherland.

In the opinion of the Russian Orthodox Church primate, if terrorism prevails in Syria, “it has an enormous chance if not winning then making life extremely miserable for the Russian people.”

“Therefore, this war is defensive — not so much even a war as much as precise actions. But even so, this is the participance of our people in military actions, and since this war is of a defensive nature, it is just,” the patriarch declared.

He also noted that according to Christianity, “military actions are justified when they defend the individual, society and the state.”

The patriarch also noted “what terrible ills terrorism brings.” “Our people have passed through terrible trials — Beslan, Volgograd, it is impossible to enumerate them all. We are burned by this pain, we know what it is. And our plane, that was shot down over the Sinai? Therefore everything that happens is retaliatory, defensive actions. In that sense we speak of a just struggle.”

At the Cathedral of Christ the Savior, Patriarch Kirill also took part in a “space bridge” with Russian cosmonauts aboard the International Space Station. 

2016-01-07 16:38:17

President Vladimir Putin attended a Christmas service at the Church of the Intercession of the Blessed Virgin in village of Turginovo in Tverskaya Region, reported, citing TASS.Putin presented the church where his parents were baptised with the icon of the Smolensk Mother of God; his grandmother is also buried in this town.


2016-01-07 16:35:23

Photo by Aleksandr Druzhinin/TASS

This icon, believed to be a worker of miracles is one of the most venerated images in the Russian Orthodox Faith. In 1414 Prince Yuri Svyatoslavich of Smolensk brought it to Moscow when he escaped advancing Lithuanian troops, and it was placed at Novodevichy Convent, which was built to commemorate the winning back of Smolensk from the Lithuanians.

This is the second time Putin has spent Christmas at this church; in 2011 he also came to the Christmas service and presented the icon of the Holy Virgin.

— Catherine A. Fitzpatrick