Saturday, 2 Dec 2023

Fears Putin’s ‘hidden’ puppets infiltrating the West as FBI issues spy warning

Orthodox church: Ukraine invasion ‘increasing strain’ says Pepinster

In recent years, the Russian Orthodox Church has not only solidified its position as a significant force within Russian society but has also extended its influence abroad, particularly in Western countries.

This growing influence, combined with concerns about potential ties to Russian intelligence, has prompted warnings from experts and authorities about the church’s role in the Kremlin’s overseas activities.

There have been concerns in recent years about the infiltration of Russian organisations abroad and the presence of potential assassins among them.

Since the early years of Vladimir Putin’s presidency, the Russian Orthodox Church has seen a resurgence in its influence within Russia. It has also strengthened its historical ties to the Russian state and military.

In the wake of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in 2022, the church has played a significant role in supporting the war, with Patriarch Kirill, its leader, becoming a prominent advocate for the Kremlin’s military objectives.

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Less noticed, however, is the substantial backing that Putin receives from Orthodox communities abroad, particularly in the West. In the United States alone, there are 2,380 Orthodox Church parishes, along with numerous monasteries.

While the overall church membership remains relatively small, the widespread presence of parishes in Western cities has allowed the church to establish a broad geographic footprint.

Following Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine, Orthodox leaders in North America called for worldwide support. In Europe, some of the most prominent Orthodox bishops in the West criticised Ukrainian authorities, rather than the Russian military, for the atrocities committed against Christians during the conflict.

Furthermore, there has been an ambitious campaign to win the hearts and minds of Russian Orthodox believers, even in Western countries, led by a church faction with alleged links to Russian intelligence and the government.

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The extent of these efforts has raised concerns within the US government. Earlier this year, the FBI privately warned members of the Orthodox community in the United States about potential Russian attempts to recruit intelligence sources through the church.

Copies of FBI documents shared among Russian Orthodox and Greek Orthodox parishes identified a senior member of the Russian Orthodox Church’s foreign relations department suspected of having ties to Russian intelligence.

This revelation suggests that the church’s ties to the Putin regime may be closer than initially assumed, with potentially significant implications for Russian influence overseas.

Given the Russian Orthodox Church’s well-established presence in Western countries, these ties could complicate efforts to build an effective Russian opposition abroad.

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