ISSN 2330-717X

Orthodox Leaders In Ukraine Shifting Allegiance From Moscow To Kyiv Lest They Appear ‘Collaborators And Agents Of Russia’ – OpEd


When Vladimir Putin began his war in Ukraine, he destroyed many things but none more completely than the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the Moscow Patriarchate whose clergy and laity have been transferring their allegiance to the autocephalous Orthodox Church of Ukraine.


That was demonstrated by a poll conducted in early March which found that most believers in Ukraine no longer wanted to be associated with a church based in the capital of the country attacking their own and were pressing the UOC MP to allow them to join the OCU (

The Moscow church has done everything it can to block this tectonic shift, recognizing that with the loss of its parishes and hierarchs in Ukraine, it will cease to be beyond question the largest Orthodox church in the world and will likely face more demands for autocephaly both in the former Soviet space and even within the Russian Federation.

But the desire of Orthodox faithful in Ukraine to leave what they see as a Russian church has become so strong that now even the leaders of key monasteries are shifting their allegiance unilaterally from Moscow and Kyiv lest they appear to the faithful as “collaborators and agents of Russia.”

The latest to do so is the New Athos Monastery of Lviv whose leaders took this step for that reason and without waiting for Moscow’s blessing. That pattern seems likely to spread and accelerate the demise of the Russian church in Ukraine and the consolidation of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church (


Paul Goble

Paul Goble is a longtime specialist on ethnic and religious questions in Eurasia. Most recently, he was director of research and publications at the Azerbaijan Diplomatic Academy. Earlier, he served as vice dean for the social sciences and humanities at Audentes University in Tallinn and a senior research associate at the EuroCollege of the University of Tartu in Estonia. He has served in various capacities in the U.S. State Department, the Central Intelligence Agency and the International Broadcasting Bureau as well as at the Voice of America and Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty and at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. Mr. Goble maintains the Window on Eurasia blog and can be contacted directly at [email protected] .

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