It’s February 21, 2022. Nearly 200,000 Russian soldiers sit at three sides of the Russian border with Ukraine. In three days, missiles will start hitting targets in major Ukrainian cities. As the world waits, it’s on this evening that Russian President Vladimir Putin will give a long rambling address to the nation. The speech is hard-core Russian nationalism. One of the main thrusts of the speech is where he called Ukraine a fiction created by Vladimir Lenin. Somewhere in the address, he says the following:
Since time immemorial, the people living in the southwest of what has historically been Russian land have called themselves Russians and Orthodox Christians.
-Vladimir Putin, February 21, 2022
What did this quote mean? Is it that he thinks Ukraine is really Russian? Yes. In fact, the word Ukraine in Russian means “border” or “frontier.” But what else stands out? It’s the last two words: Orthodox Christians. Why did the President of the Russian Federation talk about the faith of both Ukraine and Russia?
The Orthodox branch of Christianity is the major religion of both Russia and Ukraine. His including religion in this quote shows how faith is one of the factors in this war. Putin brings up Orthodox Christianity because religion is one of the ways he can define Russian nationalism. It is faith that helps define both nations, but it is in Russia that it is being used as a pretext for war. In this special broadcast, we will take a look at the role of religion in modern Russia and Ukraine and how it fuels the largest land war in Europe since World War II. This war is a Holy War. It is Vladimir Putin’s Holy War.