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Putin, Russia, The UOC-MP, And The ROC In Lose-Lose Situation With Ukraine Hostage Sailors

REUTERS Ukraine President Petro Poroshenko

The President of Ukraine, Petro Poroshenko, asked the head of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the Moscow Patriarchate (UOC-MP) Metropolitan Onufriy, to contact Moscow and help negotiate the release of the 24 sailors being held hostage after their capture on 25 November. 

Putin, Russia, the UOC-MP, and the Russian Orthodox Church will be on the losing end of this little skirmish.  Here’s why.


Putin is not responding to repeated attempts to talk by Poroshenko. Putin’s refusal to talk or negotiate only paints him as non-cooperative and juvenile.


Russia is clearly in violation of several international agreements and international laws, and holding the sailors makes Russia appear to be holding them hostage, along with other Ukrainians held as “political prisoners”. Russia is not making any attempts to appear civil, despite many international calls for the release of the hostages. Russia is very publicly twisting international law to form a farcical fabricated story, another loss of face.

The Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the Moscow Patriarchate (UOC-MP), Metropolitan Onufriy

No matter the outcome, Metropolitan Onufriy is now subordinated to Patriarch Kirill and the ROC, who are no longer even a part of the Ecumenical Orthodox Church in Constantinople. The ROC and its offspring, the UOC-MP, see themselves as the canonical church and rightful church, but have self-anathemised by trashing Constantinople.

If the Ukrainian sailor hostages are not released, their first effort will establish a precedent of ineffectiveness. 

If the hostages are released, clearly Metropolitan Onufriy is subordinated to Patriarch Kirill who is now subordinated to President Putin and Russia. Metropolitan Onufriy is way down in the hierarchy.  

Russian Orthodox Church (ROC)

The ROC’s Patriarch Kirill will most likely be the point of contact for Metropolitan Onufriy.  If Patriarch Kirill, Patriarch of the ROC, does not cooperate, he and the ROC should be painted as uncooperative and juvenile, especially in light of their recent thrashing at the hands of the Ecumenical Church in Constantinople. If the ROC and Patriarch Kirill cooperate but cannot secure the release of the Russian hostage sailors, the ROC and Patriarch Kirill will be seen to have lost some of their standing within Russia as a result of the Ecumenical Church’s decision to grant autocephaly to the Ukrainian Orthodox Church. If the ROC and Patriarch Kirill cooperate and do secure or help secure the release of the Russian sailors being held hostage by Russia, they will assume a subordinate position in Russia, subordinate to  the State of Russia and no longer an ‘equal’. 

The Fourth Possibility – UOC-MP and ROC do nothing

There is also the possibility that Metropolitan Onufriy and Patriarch Kirill will do nothing. In this case their first public mission as a newly heretical and self-excommunicated church of the Ecumenical church will be an absolute abject failure precisely because they chose not to act. Above all, they will be seen acting, or rather not acting, on their own behalf and certainly not on the behalf of the victims of the Kerch Strait incident. They might also be seen as acting on behalf of the Russian statemaking them yet another tool for Russia, definitely  not spiritual. They would also be seen not acting upon the request of the President of Ukraine. 

No matter what Russia does or doesn’t do, it will lose. 

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(article lightly edited for grammar)

Poroshenko asks church to mediate in release of Ukrainian sailors captured by Russia

12:50, 09 December 2018

Poroshenko had conversations with head of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the Moscow Patriarchate Onufriy.

Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko asked the head of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the Moscow Patriarchate Onufriy to get into contact with Moscow and mediate in the release of 24 Ukrainian sailors captured by Russia near the Kerch Strait on November 25.

“Yesterday and the day before yesterday I had a conversation with the head of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the Moscow Patriarchate, His Beatitude Onufriy. I asked him to immediately contact Moscow to involve the church in measures to return [the captive Ukrainian sailors]. I will use every opportunity to get our soldiers back. We will pray and hope that this will happen as soon as possible,” the presidential press service quoted Poroshenko as saying in an interview to the First Eastern television channel.

The president said that immediately after receiving information about an attack on the three Ukrainian vessels near the Kerch Strait, he requested a conversation with Russian President Vladimir Putin “in order to get an explanation of the actions of the Russian Armed Forces.”

“As you know, Putin shun[ned] the conversation,” Poroshenko said.

As UNIAN reported earlier, on the morning of November 25, Russia blocked the passage to the Kerch Strait for the Ukrainian tugboat “Yany Kapu” and two armored naval boats “Berdyansk” and “Nikopol,” which were on a scheduled re-deployment from the Black Sea port of Odesa to the Azov Sea port of Mariupol.

The Ukraine Navy Command noted that the Russian side had been informed of the plans to re-deploy the vessels in advance in accordance with international standards to ensure the safety of navigation. The Russian coast guard ship “Don” rammed the Ukrainian tugboat, damaging the Ukrainian vessel. As the Ukrainian boats were heading back in the Odesa direction after being rejected passage via the Kerch Strait, Russian coast guards opened aimed fire on them.

All 24 crew members on board were captured and later remanded in custody for two months, being charged with “illegal border crossing” (the sailors are facing up to six years in prison). Three crewmen were wounded in the attack.

Russian-controlled “courts” in occupied Crimea ruled that all 24 detainees should be remanded in custody, after which they were transferred to the Moscow-based Lefortovo and Matrosskaya Tishina detention centers.


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