On 19 March, the Patriarch of Moscow issued the justification in favour of peace among “the people of Holy Russia.” In its decoded form, the position of Patriarch Kirill is as follows: since the majority of the people of Crimea are Russian speaking, and since Crimea had been the cradle of the Rus of Kiev, it is thus natural that Crimea rejoin “the Russian world.” Patriarch Kirill’s right-hand man, Father Vsevolod Chaplin, went so far as to say that all of the Ukraine should be annexed by Russia.
It is at this point, however, that we should explain to our Russian friends they must not confuse nationality with citizenship. It is unimaginable that France would organize a referendum in Wallonia on the pretext that the majority of Belgians are French speaking. Moreover, it is not because Clovis was baptized by a bishop who was subject to the Bishop of Rome that Italy should become French today. It is well known that Russia has only existed as a state since the seventeenth century and only occupied Crimea in the year 1855. Thus it is today that we are witnessing the incapacity of the Russian state to disengage itself from its imperial and colonial mentality and the tragic amnesia of the Russian church, which has forgotten that phyletism or ecclesial nationalism is a heresy that has been condemned by the Orthodox Church.
Now let us turn to the justification offered by Vladimir Putin. On 18 March, the day of the annexation of Crimea, the Russian president made reference to the 2010 decision of the International Court of Justice, which authorized Kosovo to declare its independence. Angela Merkel judged that this comparison was quite simply “shameful.” In fact, as Paul Linden-Retek and Evan Brewer have shown, the cases of Kosovo and Crimea have absolutely nothing in common for three major reasons.