Friday 21 January 2022

Frank and Substantive

23 years ago, one of the most distinguished Orthodox theologians in the world told me how acutely Russians felt the loss of Mother Kiev.

Now, be in no doubt at to my own view. The present Patriarchate of Moscow is in fact a state-sponsored schism from the ancient Patriarchate of Kiev, which reacceded to Petrine Unity by desire in 1594, by Papal recognition in 1595, and by ratification at the Synod of Brest-Litovsk in 1596, all in the tradition of Prince Izjaslav of Kiev's placing of his lands under the protection of Pope Gregory VII in 1075, of Danylo of Halič's reception of his Crown from Pope Innocent IV as late as 1253, and of the events of 1458, when the schismatic Jonah had been proclaimed "Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia" while the Catholic Gregory had remained Patriarch of Kiev.

It was not until 1807, following the Tsar's forcible suppression of the See of Kiev, that the Holy See erected the Archbishopric of Leopolis (Lviv). Among its occupants, Andrzej Szeptycki, in office from 1900 to 1944, was so tireless, alike for the Union of Brest-Litovsk, for theological study, for the monastic life, and for Ukrainian history and archaeology, that he was known as "the Father of the Ukrainian People" by Catholics and Orthodox alike. Let his successors, in turn, be so known. Let them act as such. A common identity based on being children of the Kievan Rus' is more than possible and desirable.

But I say again that it has been 23 years since one of the most distinguished Orthodox theologians in the world told me how acutely Russians felt the loss of Mother Kiev. The internal borders of the Soviet Union were never designed for international use, and they do not work as such, nor will they ever. The dissolution of the Union itself was massively unpopular at the time, and subsequent events continue to vindicate that unpopularity, but that dissolution has happened, so the people there are stuck with these problems, effectively forever. They are their problems, though. They are not ours.

Joe Biden has just said that no country with nuclear weapons had invaded any other country since 1945. Yes, he really has said that. But now, apparently, there are "100,000 Russian troops on the border with Ukraine". Where, exactly, are these "100,000 Russian troops"? How close, exactly, are they to the border with Ukraine? And whom, exactly, are we arming and training in Ukraine? The Azov Battalion? Such were the forces that the Obama Administration, in which Biden was Vice President, used, and was by, in the coup of February 2014.

And such remains the base of the regime there. By deploying our Armed Forces to assist them, then it is we who have, already, invaded Ukraine. The Russian troops have just left Kazakhstan, if anyone remembers that. So much for never being able to get them out of your house. But it took us 20 years to get out of Afghanistan. The best for which we could hope would be that the Russian Armed Forces, with at least three million active-duty and reserve personnel to our fewer than 200,000, would find us a great deal quicker to defeat than a scratch militia from the Pashtun hills did. But that militia did.

The Americans have no concept that there is a sovereign state in Ukraine. One side in Geneva sees it as an American protectorate that could continue to be run by actual Nazis as long as they delivered the goods for Uncle Sam as similar regimes did in many places during the Cold War, while the other side sees it as part of Russia, indeed as the birthplace of Russia.

None of this is worth one drop of our blood or one penny of our treasure, and our personnel who have cynically been deployed as a tripwire should be withdrawn immediately, with all arms supplies ended forthwith, and with a turn instead towards the exploitation of our own vast reserves of energy so that we never again had to care about Russian gas.