Source: The Wall Street Journal
Zelensky seeks to weaken a key source of Russian influence as heavy fighting continues
KYIV, Ukraine—Ukraine’s government moved to curb the activities of the Orthodox Christian denomination historically linked to Moscow, aiming to cut off the most important remaining source of Russian cultural and religious influence in the country.
President Volodymyr Zelensky announced the move as deadly battles continued along the front line, with Russia making small advances near the eastern Ukrainian city of Bakhmut, which has re-emerged as a major focus of the war.
The Ukrainian Orthodox Church, canonically linked to the Moscow Patriarchate, is one of the country’s two main Orthodox denominations and used to be the dominant one before many faithful and parishes switched to the rival Orthodox Church of Ukraine.
Viewed by Moscow as heretical, the OCU was recognized in 2019 by the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople as fully independent from Russia, a major diplomatic achievement for Kyiv and a blow to Russian soft power. Most Ukrainian believers are Orthodox Christians, though Greek Catholics are predominant in the country’s west.