Information operations · Information Warfare · Russia

Russia’s “Third Rome concept … is collapsing like a house of cards”


Anonymous expert compilation, analysis, and reporting.

One of the favorite Russian propagandist’s phrases is being torn asunder, Moscow as the “Third Rome”.  It no longer has a basis in reality and has always been a false construct. 

Now that the Orthodox Church of Ukraine is about to receive autocephaly, they will split from the Russian Orthodox Church, which is smaller. The Russian Orthodox Church has threatened to excommunicate themselves from the Eastern Orthodox Church, which would further isolate them from the Orthodox world. There would be no religious basis upon which to make the claim that they are the “Third Rome”.

Russia’s hybrid war against Ukraine was being waged on multiple fronts, multiple levels, and using multiple tools. None seem to be working, and the indomitable spirit of Ukraine has seemingly prevailed and won.

Now we just need to work to disestablish the phrase “Third Carthage” for London.

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When Turkish troops overran Constantinople in 1453AD, Russia’s leadership saw this as an opportunity to become the center of the Eastern Orthodox faith, and soon after promoted the notion of Muscovy as the “Third Rome”, to the extent that the Grand Prince was declared Tsar, which is slavicized Caesar, otherwise the nominal title of the ruler of the Byzantine or Eastern Roman Empire. The Tsars’ coat of arms was modeled on the Byzantine Palaiologos dynasty double-headed eagle, which remains the basis of the coat of arms of modern Russia.

The idea of Muscovy as the  “Third Rome” largely faded into obscurity with the demise of the Romanovs, until the Putin era, where a grandiose vision of Russia’s future needed suitable propaganda tropes and ideological props.

So the notion of Muscovy as the  “Third Rome” was resuscitated as a replacement for the flopped pan-Slavism construct that could no longer be sold in Europe, and was unhelpful in nations that were not culturally / linguistically Slavic (Russia has long falsely asserted that language and culture are determinants of race and ethnicity).

Therefore, Russia would come to lead all nations of the Eastern Orthodox faith, as the  “Third Rome”.  The leadership of the Russian Orthodox Church was evidently sold on this idea, and there have been numerous reports of the Russians working very hard to marginalize the Patriarch in Constantinople in recent years, and attempting to promote Russia as the true center of the faith.

This week, the  Russian Orthodox Church declared its intent to effectively sever relations with the Patriarch in Constantinople. The cited reason was of course Ukraine. This is for all intents and purposes a schism in the Eastern Orthodox Church, and possibly the biggest since the 1652AD schism in Russia, between the Tsar aligned Church and the Old Believers (whether the split from Constantinople is a schism technically may require a finding by scholars of Orthodox canon law, but in practical terms it is).

Reports in the media over recent weeks indicated that the Patriarchy in Constantinople sought advice and consensus from the leadership of most of the Eastern Orthodox churches before deciding to endorse autonomy for the Ukrainian church. This despite years of effort by the Russians to convince all of the other Orthodox churches that Russia should come first.

Ukraine’s President Poroshenko’s comment at the YES conference is on target:  “… the Third Rome concept, as Moscow’s longest-standing claim of global hegemony, is collapsing like a house of cards, …. The future of world Orthodoxy is also being decided here: we also understand it differently than the Russians”.

The Russians’ attempt to usurp the authority of the Patriarchy in Constantinople has failed.

By self-isolating, the Russian Orthodox Church is now in the domain of a schism. If the self isolation persists, or the Russians escalate, they will not only be effectively self-excommunicating, but possibly even self-anathemising.

More overindulgence in Dugin’s “Russian Truth”.

Coat of Arms of the Byzantine Empire (Wikipedia).


Holy divorce: Russian Orthodox Church quits Constantinople-led structures | UNIAN

Patriarch of the Russian Orthodox Church (ROC) Kirill will no longer recall Patriarch of Constantinople, Bartholomew, during the service, Russian media report, referring to the head of the Department for External Church Relations, Metropolitan Hilarion of Volokolamsk. Russian Patriarch Kirill will no longer pray for the health of Patriarch Bartholomew of Constantinople amid the Ukraine row. Patriarch of the Russian Orthodox Church (ROC) Kirill will no longer recall Patriarch of Constantinople, Bartholomew, during the service, Russian media report, referring to the head of the Department for External Church Relations, Metropolitan Hilarion of Volokolamsk. “The synod decided to suspend the commemoration of the Patriarch of Constantinople during services at the Russian Orthodox Church,” said the Metropolitan. In addition, the ROC ceases participation in all structures presided by representatives of the Patriarchate of Constantinople. “Eucharistic communication between the churches is not being severed. This decision so far does not deprive the clergy of the Patriarchate of Constantinople and the ROC of the possibility to perform joint services,” explained the spokesman of Patriarch Cyril, priest Alexander Volkov.

Biggest rift in modern Orthodox history? Russian Church won’t work w/ Constantinople-chaired bodies — RT World News

The Russian Orthodox Church is ending its participation in any structures chaired by the Constantinople Patriarchate, the Holy Synod said, as Constantinople decided to recognize the independence of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church.

Russian Orthodox Church ‘Cuts Ties’ With Bartholomew

The Russian Orthodox Church has announced it will no longer take part in structures chaired by the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople.

Russia’s Orthodox Church freezes ties with Constantinople over Ukraine spat

MOSCOW (Reuters) – Russia’s Orthodox Church said on Friday it would no longer participate in structures chaired by the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople, deepening a row in Orthodox Christianity over the Ukrainian Church’s bid to break away from Moscow’s orbit. The Russian Orthodox Church’s Holy Synod ruling body convened on Friday to consider how to respond as the Ukrainian Orthodox Church has courted Constantinople to formally make it a self-governing body independent of Moscow. Ukraine’s pro-Western political leaders have sought step by step to take the former Soviet republic out of Moscow’s orbit after Russia annexed the Crimean peninsula in 2014 and a Moscow-backed insurgency broke out in eastern Ukraine. Vladimir Legoida, a Russian Church spokesman, said the Holy Synod had decided to suspend its participation in all structures chaired or co-chaired by representatives of the Patriarchate of Constantinople. It is also suspending all services with top priests of the Patriarchate of Constantinople and will not commemorate the Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I in its services, Legoida wrote on social media, summarizing the outcome of the meeting. “Essentially this is a breakdown of relations. To take an example from secular life, the decision is roughly equivalent to cutting diplomatic ties,” the Russian Church’s Metropolitan Ilarion was quoted by RIA news agency as saying.

Moscow Patriarchate snubs Istanbul over Ukraine row – Daily Sabah

The rant between the Greek Orthodox Church based in Istanbul – regarded as the highest body in Orthodox Christianity – and the Russian Orthodox…

Russian Orthodox Church downgrades ties with rival in Istanbul

The Russian Orthodox Church on Sept. 14 cut “diplomatic ties” with Bartholomew I, the Istanbul-based spiritual leader of the world’s Orthodox Christians, accusing him of encroaching on its religious territory in Ukraine.

Russian church rebuffs Orthodoxy’s leader after Ukraine move – The Washington Post

The Russian Orthodox Church on Friday announced a rebuff to the leader of the worldwide Orthodox community

Russian church rebuffs Orthodoxy’s leader after Ukraine move | Fox News

The Russian Orthodox Church on Friday announced a rebuff to the leader of the worldwide Orthodox community, saying it would not participate in events headed by the Istanbul-based Ecumenical Patriarchate due to a dispute over control of the church in Ukraine.

Russian Orthodox Church cuts ties with Constantinople over Ukraine – BBC News

“Diplomatic relations” with the Patriarchate of Constantinople are severed amid Russia-Ukraine tension.

Russian Orthodox Church ′cuts ties′ with Constantinople leader over Ukraine | News | DW | 14.09.2018

The Russian Orthodox Church has downgraded “diplomatic relations” with Istanbul-based Patriarch Bartholomew of Constantinople. Bartholomew I has been accused of “anti-canonical activities” for sending bishops to Ukraine.

Russian Orthodox Church Breaks With Constantinople As Ukrainian Orthodox Church Pulls Away – Tsarizm

Russian Orthodox Church Breaks With Constantinople As Ukrainian Orthodox Church Pulls Away. Moscow Worried West Pushing Ukrainian Church To Leave Its Orbit.

Russian Orthodox Church mulls strategy on Ukraine

The head of the Russian Orthodox Church chaired a meeting of top priests Friday to decide how to respond to the move by Orthodox Christianity’s leading body to send two envoys to Ukraine.

UAWire – US promises to support decision to give Ukrainian church autocephaly

The US will support the decision to grant the Ukrainian church autocephaly, said US Ambassador-at-Large for International Religious Freedom Sam Brownback at a meeting in Kyiv with Verkhovna Rada Chairman Andriy Parubiy. “At the stage of deciding whether to grant the Ukrainian Orthodox Church a Tomos of autocephaly, we will not interfere. But when such a decision has been made, we will support it,” the diplomat promised. Andriy Parubiy pointed out that the matter of creating an independent church is directly related to Ukraine’s security. “Putin’s hybrid war has many elements, and the military element is important, but the information and humanitarian elements are just as important, and he uses these areas effectively and dangerously,” Parubiy observed. The Ecumenical Patriarchate has postponed the Synod until October.

Rome and Moscow Fight for Control of Eastern Orthodox Church | theTrumpet.com

Europe is being divvied up between Catholicism and Russian Orthodoxy.

Moscow mistaken to think Ukraine is Russian Orthodox Church’s canonical territory – Poroshenko

The recent synaxis (assembly) of the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople dispelled Moscow’s illusions that Ukraine is a canonical territory of the Moscow Patriarchate, Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko said. “A unified communal local Orthodox church is a precondition of public accord and unity of our state. This is a guarantee of our spiritual independence from Moscow, which is unfortunately still in thrall to its mistaken idea that we are its canonical territory,” Poroshenko said at an annual meeting of the Yalta European Strategy (YES) organized by the Viktor Pinchuk Foundation in Kyiv on Friday. “And the September synaxis, the assembly of bishops of the Ecumenical Patriarchate, has completely dispelled Moscow’s wrong illusions,” he said. Autocephaly of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church is important to those who are outside the country, Poroshenko said. “Ukrainians around the world will also have their church. And here is yet another important factor: the Third Rome concept, as Moscow’s longest-standing claim of global hegemony, is collapsing like a house of cards,” he said. “The future of world Orthodoxy is also being decided here: we also understand it differently than the Russians,” Poroshenko said.

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5 thoughts on “Russia’s “Third Rome concept … is collapsing like a house of cards”

  1. Third Rome is Muscovy; and Muscovy doesn’t have to fall for Russia to collapse. In fact, if Russia became Muscovy it would fix most of the problems Russia causes with its unmanageable landmass which is rightful living room for Chinese and Indians, IMHO.

    1. The idea is more ideological, physical Moscow is not going to fall, but the idea of “Third Rome”, or the reincarnation of Caesar is strongly undermined. It is not a statement of demographics, either. It is one of Alexander Dugin and Igor Panarin’s favorite phrases to use. It is ill-defined and wholly ungrounded.

  2. Agreed, it is a ‘prophecy’, as much as it is a geopolitical strategy; and an apocalyptic one, at that. I think the fact though that it pertains to Muscovy rather than ‘Russia’ specifically (as the prophecy existed before Ivan IV was the first Tsar of all the Russias), provides an opportunity to undermine it and leverage it from an information ops perspective. Theoretically, you can wield Russian nationalism to argue for the more accurate historical land of Muscovy (in which also the Orthodox Church had not yet taken on the perverse state of the Tsar as protector — due to forgery no less).

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