In the wake of the exposure of the Russian massacre of Ukrainian civilians in Bucha, an action that has sparked horror around the world, many people of good will are wondering both how widespread such war crimes by Russian forces may prove to be and also how much support the Russian authorities are giving to such horrific actions.
The answer to both questions is provided by a broadside produced by the Bryansk metropolitanate of the Russian Orthodox Church of the Moscow Patriarchate that has been distributed to Russian soldiers there by the office of that church responsible for relations with the military and the police.
It tells Russian troops in the most direct way, “Your task is to wipe the Ukrainian nation off the face of the earth,” a directive from church officials that many Russian soldiers will see as giving them carte blanche as far as violence against the Ukrainian people are concerned.
Russian officials can be counted on to claim that this broadside is “a fake,” just as they have tried to deny the crimes at Bucha, thus putting them in a long line of brutal authoritarian and totalitarian regimes that do not place any value on human life and assume they can get away with any crime simply by denying the obvious.
They also provide new evidence of the insight former Estonian president Toomas Hendrik Ilves offered when he said some years ago that “if the Russians come back again, they won’t be constrained [even] by communism.” And as a result, the horrors they will inflict will be no less and quite possibly even greater than those the Soviets did.
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