Putin’s tanks are at Kiev, the spiritual heart of Holy Russia.
This could undo a great historical wrong of Brest-Litovsk, Bolshevism, and the Maidan Putsch but the astonishing bravery of President Volodimyr ‘I need ammo, not a ride’ Zelensky and others prepared to take up arms for the Ukrainian state will taint any gloss that can be applied to the finished Russian product. If Putin fails, the situation will likely become yet worse for the people on whose behalf he claims to be intervening.
Few called this better and did more to demonstrate opposition than UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson. The UK was first to ban Russian flights from its airspace and Russian money from its economy. When it came to it, the EU didn’t stand with Johnson’s initial attempt to cut Russia totally from the SWIFT network because, they said, they needed it to pay their gas bills to Moscow. So much for the ‘international community,’ the punditry have worn out their Hitler cliches on Trump, who’s promise to ‘hit Moscow’ in this event might have staved off the moment. Big tech haven’t even got as far as banning Putin from Twitter.
Aside from demonstrating willingness to go further than enfeebled European republics, however, it is also Britain’s job to account for Putin’s reasoning.
As the only societies to have seriously and successfully defended themselves from the Napoleonic contagion, Britain and Russia share terms of identity that are anathema to secular Western Europe. They stand alone, at least in theory, against states founded on ethnic nationalism.
Months before expanding the Russian state into what he regards as already being the Russian nation, Putin’s explanation of the territory and its division by the West could be found on the Kremlin’s website. (blocked by vigilante hackers but copied here).
“…Our spiritual unity has been attacked. As in the days of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania, a new ecclesiastical has been initiated. The secular authorities, making no secret of their political aims, have blatantly interfered in church life and brought things to a split, to the seizure of churches, the beating of priests and monks. Even extensive autonomy of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church while maintaining spiritual unity with the Moscow Patriarchate strongly displeases them. They have to destroy this prominent and centuries-old symbol of our kinship at all costs.”
Most would agree: Russians don’t exist as a people without their church. If Britain were as turbulent as Russia, the monarchy and Church of England would probably play a more central role in our civic life though this is forgotten and, indeed, so unfamiliar to our media as to appear bordering on hocus-pocus. It’s easier just to follow NATO allies in calling Putin ‘mad’.
Nevertheless it remains for Britain to point out what holds church, state and people together, meet Putin on his own terms, and ask:
“WHO, MR PRESIDENT, IS YOUR KING?”
No British patriot can consider a state legitimate if it’s turning its back on God or dancing on the grave of another monarchy. Strictly speaking, British recognition of the European Republics is a concession of realpolitik. If, between violent bouts of genocide and civil war, London judges them according to their own ‘enlightened’ principles, that is not to be taken as an acknowledgment that those principles are well founded.
With its re-flowering Christianity and anti-woke leadership, (credit where it’s due), Russia seemed to be edging towards her ancient and noble dignity. Putin now opens himself to the accusation of using all that as a battering ram for a secular agenda and even (Lord have mercy), lending credibility to the very heretical schismatics that he bemoans. Britain and perhaps Denmark are the only countries in Europe which, without hypocrisy, can hold Putin accountable to the Holy Romanov martyrs venerated by his nation today.
Putin is clear what he wants to do:
“I decided to conduct a special military operation… we will strive for the demilitarisation and denazification of Ukraine, as well as bringing to justice those who committed numerous, bloody, crimes against civilians — including citizens of the Russian Federation… Our plans do not include the occupation of Ukrainian territories. We are not going to impose anything on anyone by force.”
Russia has nothing to gain economically from taking on yet more unruly territory, but the Russian lands also cannot be united on Putin’s terms while he is commander in chief. He appears to understand this, so why in God’s name didn’t he posit the royalist solution before he invaded? It needn’t be a Romanov, but Holy Russia cannot be called such without her Emperor. And if the Emperor were restored, would an invasion have been necessary to reunite her people while so much of the Ukraine, at least in theory, is oriented towards Moscow?
Now here’s the tragedy.
If Putin ‘is not going to impose anything on anyone by force’ he will have to divide the Ukrainian jurisdiction, roughly speaking, along ethnic lines.
With every passing hour of war, those whose Russian identity might make them sympathetic to unity will be fewer. When the boundaries of nationhood and belonging are re-drawn, it will be by politicians in distant offices; a triumph for committees of paper republics who jostle for the endorsements of PR, history and powerful neighbours.
When Russia finally comes into her regal greatness (this war is a setback), I can’t help but think several regions might rather have lived under the crown of Holy Orthodoxy than the clauses of some chippy secular constitution that they’ll never read. As far as they’re concerned it will have been Putin, not the West, that divided them from their great, Russian, nation.
Spasi, Gospodi, liudi tvoya.