Sunday, July 5, 2015


Pope Francis meets Russian President Vladimir Putin at the Vatican in 2013
Pope Francis meets Russian President Vladimir Putin
WASHINGTON – Russian President Vladimir Putin increasingly appears to be using the Russian Orthodox Church as an extension of his own foreign policy to influence countries with a strong Eastern Orthodox base, including some members of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization.
There are some 165 million Russian Orthodox Church members, with nearly another 100 million Eastern Orthodox Christians in other countries.
Countries where the Eastern Orthodox Church is the largest religious faith are Belarus, Bulgaria, Cyprus, Georgia, Greece, Macedonia, Moldova, Montenegro, Romania, Russia, Serbia and Ukraine. Countries such as Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania have a high percentage of Eastern Orthodox Christians.
Of these countries, Albania, Bulgaria, Greece, Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania are NATO members. Bulgaria, Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania also have a significant population of ethnic Russians.
All of these countries figure prominently in Putin’s efforts to develop a barrier between NATO and the Russian Federation. In the case of Greece – whose 40-year-old leftist prime minister, Alexis Tsipras, met recently with Putin to help resolve the country’s financial crisis – Moscow’s assertion of influence could disrupt an already economically plagued European Union and drive a wedge among NATO members.
Various Russian experts say Putin intends to use the Russian Orthodox Church as a foreign policy tool at a time when the Russian Orthodox and Roman Catholic Churches seek reconciliation over their nearly 1,000-year split, known as the Great Schism, which occurred in A.D. 1054.


No comments:

Post a Comment

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.