Russian intelligence services have deployed a massive information campaign targeting the Orthodox Church of Ukraine, aimed at compromising it and undermining it from within.
The year 2021 kicked off with a new series of Russian hybrid psyops against Ukraine. While many experts tend to discuss those manipulating political or social issues, they turn a blind eye to operations set to affect an important pillar of Ukraine’s independence – the church. Mostly, this is due to the fact that the topic wouldn’t get that much media hype most pundits usually crave for.
Meanwhile, the Russian Orthodox Church, massively permeated by FSB and SVR assets, has not for a moment ceased attempts to retaliate for their failed campaign to hinder the new Ukraine Church’s autocephaly, that is, independence of Moscow’s influence. At the same time, throughout these years, such revanchist attempts were directed not only against Ukraine, but also against the Ecumenical Patriarch, with the intention of splitting the Orthodox world by setting up their own and special spiritual island on the one-eighth of the world’s land surface.
In fact, defeated on all fronts, having waster enormous resources without yielding any significant result, while at the same time being immersed in internal squabbles, the ROC and its agents of influence in Ukraine, with the direct support of Russian intelligence, launched a new campaign to compromise the OCU.
Thus, bluntly exploiting the media network run by the pro-Russian OPZZh force prior to them being banned, as well as a number of platforms controlled by the ROC’s Ukraine branch, as well as their main “information weapon”, blogger Anatoly Shariy, who is handled by Russian intelligence, the Russian church has since year-start deployed a campaign of high-precision information blows aimed to have the church implode and sow splits in its ranks.
This is about outright threats voiced by Shariy and his party members targeting OCU Bishop o Adrian (Kulyk), as well as circulation in open sources of “anonymous” letters with a proposal to remove OCU Metropolitan of Pereyaslav-Khmelnytsky and Vyshnevsky Oleksandr (Drabynko), who is one of the only two hierarchs with the Moscow Patriarchate, who took part in the historic Unification Council, convened in 2018 in St Sophia Cathedral in Kyiv by Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew.
In fact, we’re seeing a classic psyop unfold, tailored by Russian secret services against the OCU, with the purpose of disorganizing, compromising, and ultimately splitting the targeted entity or state. Russian toolkit includes fake news and manipulation, as well as mixing truth with falsification, all aimed to distort people’s general perception.
At present, the latest psyop is running at its initial stage, with its further progress being hampered by the package of sanctions imposed on Vladimir Putin friend Viktor Medvedchuk’s media network, known to be under the direct control of the Russian intelligence.
On the other hand, it is obvious that the ROC has purposefully selected this campaign as the most promising one in the current circumstances, given the mentioned internal contradictions (the struggle for power between Patriarch Kirill (Gundyaev) and Metropolitan Tikhon (Shevkunov)), the recent series of devastating failures ranging fron the OCU tomos issue to the Amman “assembly”. This means that in the near future, information attacks on the OCU will become even more intense and radical. The thing is that, while to carry out an act of political provocation, human resources involved require certain pay (an average rate of UAH 200 per hour), in the case of the ROC branch’s effort, they have a serious potential they can use for free.
Besides this potential, there are many pseudo-patriotic organizations actually funded from Russia that could also be involved in provocations to provoke public condemnation and discontent, which is fully in line with the psyop’s goal of compromising the OCU.
Also, the latest escalation on the religious bridgehead is due to the upcoming Ukraine visit of Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew, which will deliver another powerful and irreparable blow to the ROC position as one of the metastases of “Russian World” in Ukraine. Therefore, the ROC and its branch in Ukraine, as well as the Russian intelligence, will do their utmost to disrupt the visit.
As they say, forewarned is forearmed!