War in Ukraine, Not Only Geopolitics and Security

Orthodoxy, slavness, and minorities in times of war

22 March 2022

Orthodox voices seem to fall on deaf ears, putting into question the power of religion within societies today.

The ongoing Russian invasion of Ukraine is often analysed in geopolitical and security terms. However, there are aspects that are under-considered. They tend to be implicit and are worthy of analysis. One of them is the role of religion. How do the orthodox leaders react to the war? Why are the Orthodox churches divided? What are the consequences on the Slavic heritage and within non-Slavic neighbouring countries? 

There are many open questions about this war that we do not have the answers to yet. This article wants to focus the attention on some, not obvious, aspects of this war. 

The Orthodox Front

In 2019, 71 per cent of Russians and 78 per cent of Ukrainians identified themselves as Orthodox  Christians. They are ‘Slavic brothers’ and share about one thousand years of religious history. They believe that being Orthodox is necessary to be Ukrainian or Russian and both people expect their religious leaders to play a crucial role in daily life. They are not ‘one people, one nation’ but they are both Slavs and today they are killing each other. There are Russians in Ukraine and Ukrainians in Russia. There are Russian parts of Ukrainian families and Ukrainian parts of Russian families.  

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Paolo Zucconi

Paolo Zucconi is a Research Fellow at the Research Institute Social Cohesion in Leipzig and Research Affiliate at the Leibniz institute for History and Culture of Eastern Europe. He holds an MSc in International Security Studies, a postgraduate certificate in Intelligence and National Security and a BA in Political Science.

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