Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Carnegie Council: Russia's Orthodox Soft Power (must read)


For many analysts the term Russky mir, or Russian World, epitomizes an expansionist and messianic Russian foreign policy, the perverse intersection of the interests of the Russian state and the Russian Orthodox Church.

Little noted is that the term actually means something quite different for each party. For the state it is a tool for expanding Russia's cultural and political influence, while for the Russian Orthodox Church it is a spiritual concept, a reminder that through the baptism of Rus, God consecrated these people to the task of building a Holy Rus.

The close symphonic relationship between the Orthodox Church and state in Russia thus provides Russian foreign policy with a definable moral framework, one that, given its popularity, is likely to continue to shape the country's policies well into the future.

Read the rest here.

All in all this is an unusually sober and nuanced examination of the role, and history, of the Orthodox Church in Russian society and its somewhat complex relationship with the state. In some spots it seems to gloss over some of Russia's decidedly "Real Politik" approach to foreign affairs and the very fair criticism of the gross corruption in the Russian government. But this is definitely not the usual drive by "Putin is Hitler" op-ed and it deserves some careful reading.

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