A message on the occasion of the one-year anniversary of the start of Russia’s war in Ukraine was sent by Metropolitan Epifaniy of Kyiv and All Ukraine.
In his message, he pointed out that on this day “We remember with pain and suffering all the innocent victims of the atrocities of Russian terrorism, the acts of genocide and other war crimes that the servants of the Kremlin tyrant committed and continue to commit in our land”.
He also underlined that the war against Ukraine had started nine years ago, with the seizure of Crimea. “A war in which the tyranny of the Kremlin has mobilized all its resources: troops and diplomacy, economy and culture, media and religious communities,” he noted characteristically.
He condemned the stance of Patriarch Kirill of Moscow regarding the war, stating that “it is absolutely shameful and has no moral justification, as instead of raising their voices against the absurd war against Ukraine, they began to bless aggression and justify criminals.”
As the Metropolitan of Kyiv stated, “in our deepest conviction, the ideology of the ‘Russian world’ must be condemned in the same way as Nazism, Bolshevism, and other odious theories that justify evil. And Putin, Gudiaev, and other creators and propagandists of the ideology of the “Russian World”, along with war criminals, must be brought before an international court and convicted. For they have blood on their hands that cannot be washed away.”
Read below the statement of the Metropolitan Epifaniy of Kyiv:
Dear Brothers and Sisters!
Dear fellow citizens, and all people of goodwill throughout the world!
Today we commemorate the first anniversary of the great Russian invasion, which commenced aimed at the final destruction of Ukrainian statehood and of our very identity. We commemorate with fasting and prayer. We remember offering thanks to God and His holy saints for the miracle of saving our country from occupation and destruction at a time when most looked on our struggle against the aggressor as brave, but doomed to inevitable defeat.
We gratefully remember the heroes who at the cost of their own blood, and even of their lives, stopped and repelled the enemy, and gratefully remember the Ukrainian soldiers who now continue to successfully struggle for the freedom and future of the Motherland. We remember with pain and sympathy all the innocent victims of the atrocities of Russian terror, acts of genocide, and other war crimes that the minions of the Kremlin tyrant committed and continue to commit on our land. We remember our refugees who, to protect the lives of themselves and their loved ones, have been forced far away from their native home. We gratefully remember all the people of goodwill who responded to our tragedy and our pain with unprecedented acts of solidarity, provided and continue to provide assistance, and in so doing testify not just with words, but by deeds: evil cannot and must not win!
Russia’s aggression against Ukraine began more than nine years ago with the occupation of Crimea. Russia’s hybrid war against our country has continued without pause since, a war in which the Kremlin tyranny employs all resources at their disposal: troops and diplomacy, economy and culture, mass media and religious communities. It seems that there is no sphere of personhood, civil society, or statehood which the Russian empire of evil will not employ in their effort to destroy Ukraine.
But, like David against Goliath, our people stood against the tyranny of evil and have already won a moral victory. Thanks to their own bravery and the extraordinary support of the democratic nations of the world and people of good will, our troops continue to win victories on the battlefield as well. They free Ukrainian cities and villages from occupation and successfully prevent the aggressor’s army from re-advancing.
Ukraine’s moral victory and our military victories both would be impossible without an undefeatable spirit, without faith in God’s help, in the ideals of truth and goodness, and faith in freedom, and without the self-sacrificing love for others which millions of Ukrainians have shown and continue to show. Thanks to our unity and spiritual indomitability, every day we become closer to the victory of truth and to a just peace for Ukraine, for which we will continue to fight.
It is with great pain that we witness the new and novel manifestations of deep cynicism through which the Kremlin tyranny coops the themes and language of religious faith, and uses the leaders of religious communities under their control along with the structures they lead, in support of its evil. There is no moral justification for the absolutely shameful position of the Moscow Patriarchate, or personally for its primate Kyril Gundyaev, who, instead of raising their voices against this insane war against Ukraine, came to bless the aggression and justify the criminals.
The Kremlin tyrant and his servants wearing uniforms, suits, and cassocks seek justification for their evil deeds by claiming they are protecting traditional Christian values. They repeat the rhetoric of the Nazis, who in much the same way sought justification for their crimes. To our ears, these attempts sound like nothing but the devil vainly quoting Holy Scripture. That is why we have a deep conviction that the ideology of the “Russian World – Russky Mir” should be condemned in the same way as Nazism, Bolshevism, and other hateful ideologies that justify evil. As such, Putin, Gundyaev and other creators and propagandists of the “Russian World – Russky Mir” ideology must be brought, together with other war criminals, before an international tribunal and convicted. There is blood on their hands that cannot be washed away.
Every day of our struggle has a great price. Every day, every hour, and even every minute of our freedom and the freedom of Europe from the new tyranny, from the new “iron curtain”, from the new wall with which the Kremlin wants to once again divide our continent is paid for with the blood and lives of Ukrainians. Therefore, we ask all our allies and partners, all democratic nations, to continue to provide all possible assistance to enable Ukraine to defeat Russia’s evil empire as swiftly as possible. We are truly grateful for what has already been done for the victory of truth, but we cannot stop there because without a free, united, sovereign Ukraine, without victory over the aggressor, Europe – and therefore the entire world – will not be truly safe.
On this sorrowful anniversary of the launching of the great Russian invasion, we call on all believers to continue to pray for the victory of truth and a just peace for Ukraine. Not everyone has an opportunity to effect political decisions, provide humanitarian aid, or accept refugee, but every believing person can – and therefore must – set aside a few minutes every day for intercessory prayer for Ukraine, for her people who are suffering from the war of aggression launched by Russia, for the victims of Russian terror, and for those who suffer in captivity and under occupation. We firmly believe that this prayerful support for Ukraine is of the greatest value in the victory over evil.
On this marked day in the history of our nation and all humanity, we beseech the Lord to arrest the spreading evil, to end Russian aggression. We pray for the fulfillment of Ukraine’s approaching victory and, through victory, the establishment of a just peace. With God’s help, may we this year witness the end of the suffering of the Ukrainian people from this war.
God, Almighty and One, save our Ukraine!
Metropolitan of Kyiv and All Ukraine,
Primate of the Orthodox Church of Ukraine