Statement of Philaret, Patriarch of Ukraine, on Russian annexation of Crimea
of Patriarch of Kyiv and All Rus-Ukraine Philaret,
Primate of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the Kyivan Patriarchate,
on the Russian annexation of the Crimea
Dear brothers and sisters!
The calling of the Church is to testify about the truth. Therefore it is necessary to give moral evaluation of the annexation, or I should say Anschluss of the Crimea carried out by the Russian Federation not long ago.
On March 18, 2014 Russia's leaders publicly committed three violations of the commandments of God: Do not kill; Do not Tell false witness against your neighbor; Do not wish your neighbor's house ... (and) anything that is thy neighbor (Exodus 20:15-17). The consequence of armed aggression of Russian government against Ukraine has become bloodshed – the murder of the Ukrainian activist by the separatists in Donetsk, killing of the Crimean Tatar and of the Ukrainian serviceman in the Crimea.
Provocateurs, instigated and supported from Russia, sow the confusion and call for separatism, incite civil conflict in the eastern and southern regions of Ukraine. In the Crimea, Ukrainian troops loyal to the oath, and their families are subjected to continuous pressure, are intimidated, including using weapons.
In the occupatied Crimea community activists disappear without a trace. Those who were occupants’ hostages and were released, witness about the cruel, inhuman treatment, constant humiliation, death threats, simulation of execution. The Russian leadership is personally responsible for all this.
In the speech on March 18 in the Kremlin, the Russian President Vladimir Putin used the tool of the devil – he mixed the truth with falsehood. I am sure that half-truth from the mouth of the Russian leader that the whole world heard is worse than outright lies – as hidden poison in food is more dangerous than obvious poison.
Considering the disintegration of the totalitarian USSR a "tragic event", he didn’t say that in Ukraine, including the Crimea and Sevastopol, most people on December 1, 1991 at a public referendum without any coercion supported the independence of Ukraine. He did not mention a single word about the obligation not only to respect but also to guarantee the territorial integrity, sovereignty and inviolability of borders of Ukraine, taken over by the Russian Federation according to Budapest Memorandum of 1994 and the Treaty of Friendship of 1997.
Occupying and annexing the Crimea, the Russian leadership in fact challenged the entire system of international law. Now, according to Russian authorities, any dispute in the "zone of interests" of the Kremlin can be solved by military force and other means of pressure - ignoring the very principles of law and justice, the interstate and international agreements, the opinion of the world community.
Mr Putin himself implicitly acknowledges this, pointing out that in the past Russia allegedly was forced, because of its economic and political weakness, to sign the relevant agreements and make commitments. Based on logics and seeing the action, now that the Kremlin felt strong, it can afford to reject all the obligations and act at its discretion.
Justifying the aggression against Ukraine, the Russian President appeals to the common historical past of our countries and peoples. But at various times under the Russian authorities, in addition to Ukraine, there was a number of countries – Belarus, the Baltic States, Poland, Finland, Moldova, the Caucasus and Central Asia countries. To all appearances, from the Russian leadership now we can expect not only the invasion to south-eastern Ukraine, but also to any of these countries. For, as in Ukraine there are ethnic Russians and Russian-speaking people, the Kremlin is prepared to justify their seizure by the "protection of their interests".
Putin officially started using such definitions as "Russian world", "historical Russia", "Russians is a divided nation", "Ukrainians and we are one people". All this, along with nostalgia for past greatness of the state and the desire to revenge for the collapse of the Soviet Union, is a replica of the ideology and rhetoric of the fascist regimes of the twentieth century, particularly in Germany and Italy.
A good proof of this ideological connection is also anti-Ukrainian hysteria deployed in the Russian media. For months, pouring the Russian people with half-truths and outright lies about the events in Ukraine, while blocking access to any alternative point of view, the Russian authorities as before the authorities of the fascist states, deceived its own people that mostly welcomes and approves
its criminal acts.
History recalls that the Anschluss of Austria and the annexation of Sudetenland were also held under the slogans "unity of the people", "protection of national interests", "justice". There the "referendums" that gave necessary results for invaders also were conducted under the muzzles of weapons. But after the "peaceful" conquest began the bloodiest World War II, because the policy of appeasement does not always lead to peace and to a sense of impunity to aggression and desire to move on.
That is why I first of all address to the entire Ukrainian people: our country is treacherously attacked by the enemy, who occupied the part of Ukraine and seeks to destroy all our statehood and independence, and return us to the Kremlin imperial yoke. So, sacred duty of each of us is to help protect our common Ukrainian House from the attacker.
We must unite, because only in unity is the power of the people. Actions of the Ukrainian state can cause criticism, but remember: the occupation authorities will not allow any criticism.
Example of many nations suggests that solidarity and selfless struggle in defense of their home provided the victory over even much more numerous and stronger aggressor. After all, God is not in force – God is in the truth.
I express my solidarity with all those who fearlessly resist the aggressor. Much respect and honor to the brave Crimean Tatar people, which under occupation maintains loyalty to the unity of Ukraine. I am grateful for the courage to Archbishop Clement, clergy and faithful of the Crimean Diocese of Kyiv Patriarchate - our church will do everything possible in order to support them and protect their rights.
Once again I’ll repeat the words spoken many times on behalf of our Church in these days: the Ukrainian people does not have and should not have any hatred or hostility to the Russian people, even in the face of military aggression against our country. We want and I am sure – in the future will have friendly and equal relations between independent Ukraine and democratic Russia based on mutual respect to sovereignty and non-interference in the internal affairs of each other.
I appeal again to the international community: the time for declarations of deep concern expired long ago, it's time to act. So I welcome early signing of an association agreement between Ukraine and the EU, giving Ukraine the prospect of EU membership - as a guarantee of peace not only in our country but also in the whole Europe.
Now not only the fate of Ukraine is decided, but also the fate of the world. Humanity stands at the crossroads: either to turn back to the era when relations between the nations are not based on the law and justice, but by force of arms and cost of millions of victims, or together to stop this cynical aggression and save the world from the worst.
Therefore, all international security institutions: the UN, OSCE, NATO and the guarantor countries for Budapest Memorandum must take all measures to stop the aggression of Russia against Ukraine. Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God!
Dear brothers and sisters!
In these difficult days I would like to testify - Kyiv Patriarchate is with the Ukrainian people. We pray and ask God to protect our country and people from the invasion of strangers, we ask the Lord to strengthen Ukraine with invisible force in the struggle for justice, freedom and peace.
I call all the faithful to this prayer and firmly believe that the Ukrainian people will win in this fight.
May God bless our country, our brave armed forces and the entire Ukrainian people!
Patriarch of Kyiv and All Rus-Ukraine,
Primate of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the Kyivan Patriarchate
March 19, 2014
© 2014 The Institute for Religious Freedom, Ukraine