On the eve of the 1000th anniversary of death of Vladimir the Great, Patriarch Kiril (of the Russian Orthodox Church) sent “letters of similar content” to the presidents of Russia and Ukraine urging them to “use all efforts to stop the bloodshed in east Ukraine. Drawing attention to the plight of civilians in the conflict, the patriarch urges: “a full cessation of hostilities, the strict observance of the Minsk accords, and the establishment of direct dialogue between all parties to the conflict…”
On the one hand, the language used in this letter places Kirill in the “moderate” pro-Russian position, that direct talks between the “rebels” (read, Russian stooges) and the Ukrainian government are necessary to terminate the conflict. On the other hand, perhaps the fact that the patriarch sent the letter to Putin and Poroshenko is a tacit acknowledgment that Russia is a party to the conflict, something that representatives of the Russian state consistently deny.
Notice Kirill did not send a communication to any of the “rebel leaders” nor, in the excerpts available to us, does he place the blame for the violation of the Minsk agreements squarely on the shoulders of the Ukrainians. Either way, these recent statements, which are being reported in the Russian press, are extremely different from the Russian propaganda headline passed around at the beginning of the month that “Patriarch Kirill said that godlessness has become the state ideology of Ukraine” along with stories suggesting that the Ukrainian state was engaged in an anti-Russian Orthodox campaign (TASS) (NTV) (Kommersant) (Kirill never said this.)
Perhaps, a small sign of light between the positions of Putin and Kirill?