Skip to content
Edit post

SBU: Russian Orthodox Church runs private military companies to train fighters for Ukraine deployment

by Martin Fornusek October 19, 2023 2:36 PM 2 min read
Russian Orthodox Metropolitan Tikhon Shevkunov (L) and Patriarch Kirill (R) attend the opening ceremony of the monument to Prince Alexander Nevsky on Sep. 11, 2021. (Mikhail Svetlov/Getty Images)
This audio is created with AI assistance

Support independent journalism in Ukraine. Join us in this fight.

Become a member Support us just once

The Kremlin-linked Russian Orthodox Church is building and running private military companies (PMC), which recruit and train fighters for deployment in Ukraine, the Security Service of Ukraine (SBU) reported on Oct. 19.

The Church receives funding for these activities from financial and industrial groups close to Russian President Vladimir Putin, the SBU said. These funds are reportedly donated as "charitable contributions" for "construction of churches."

One example of a church-run PMC named by the SBU is the St. Andrew's Cross organization based in the Kronstadt Naval Cathedral in northwestern Russia.

The Russian news outlet Bloknot reported on the St. Andrew's Cross's activities last year, calling it "the first PMC under the Russian Orthodox Church." The group was reportedly set up in 2017 to provide military training for other mercenary companies' recruits.

The cathedral's abbot Alexey denied in a comment for Russian media that the St. Andrew's Cross would be a mercenary company, saying it only teaches skills to youth and adults for future military service.

According to the SBU, the Kronstadt-based PMC is recruiting local parishioners, primarily those with military experience, and providing them with training for combat deployment in Ukraine.

The instructions are carried out on the cathedral's grounds or in specialized training facilities in cooperation with Russian special services, the SBU said.

Despite being illegal in Russia, PMCs are widely used by the Kremlin for war efforts in Ukraine and to promote Russian interests in other regions of the world, such as Africa.

The most notorious group is the Wagner Company, set up by now-deceased Yevgeny Prigozhin and Dmitry Utkin. Following their deployment on Ukraine's eastern front, Wagner fighters launched a short-lived uprising against the Russian government in June.

Prigozhin’s death latest in a series of unsolved murders in Putin’s Russia. What’s next?
The death of an opponent of Russian President Vladimir Putin is not something new in history. More than 20 critics and opponents of Putin have been murdered or died in suspicious circumstances since 2000. However, the death of Yevgeny Prigozhin, the founder of Russia’s Wagner mercenary group and o…
Before you skip this banner, we want to tell you something…

The Kyiv Independent doesn’t depend on a wealthy owner or an oligarch — in 2023, 80% of our revenue was from reader contributions. It’s thanks to them that we don’t have to rely on a single owner.

Support us now and help maintain our independent model and keep our articles free for everyone. Your contributions allow us to cover journalists’ salaries, report from the front lines, and fund projects like our War Crimes Investigations Unit.

visa masterCard americanExpress

News Feed

11:02 PM

CNN: US may allow deploying its military contractors to Ukraine.

Such a move would help the Ukrainian military maintain and repair weapons systems provided by Washington much more quickly. U.S.-supplied military equipment that has been heavily damaged in combat has to be taken out of the country to Poland, Romania, or other NATO countries for repair, which took a long time, CNN wrote.
Ukraine Daily
News from Ukraine in your inbox
Ukraine news
Please, enter correct email address
9:59 PM

Ukraine brings back 90 POWs from Russian captivity.

The released captives include 32 personnel of the National Guard, including those who defended the Chornobyl Nuclear Power Plant, 18 border guards, 17 personnel of the Navy, 15 soldiers of the Armed Forces as well as eight of the territorial defense, the Coordination Headquarters for the Treatment of Prisoners of War reported.
9:39 PM

Zelensky says he's sure Ukraine will become EU member as accession talks kick off.

"As of today, we have full confidence — Ukraine will definitely become a full member of the European Union," President Volodymyr Zelensky said in his address. "Now, the focus is on the technical work between Ukraine and the EU, adapting our system to the EU, and Europe's political will to make the European project truly complete."
8:28 PM

EU Council approves draft security agreement with Ukraine.

"We have been preparing for the next European Council, which will take place at the end of this week in Brussels. This European Council will give a full picture of our support for Ukraine in all its forms," Belgian Foreign Minister Hadja Lahbib said at a press conference in Luxembourg on June 25.
2:05 PM  (Updated: )

Breaking: International Criminal Court issues arrest warrants for Russia's Shoigu, Gerasimov.

The International Criminal Court (ICC) announced on June 25 that it has issued arrest warrants for ex Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu, now secretary of Russia's Security Council, and Valery Gerasimov, Chief of the General Staff of the Russian army, for war crimes against Ukraine. The charges relate to Russian strikes on Ukraine's energy infrastructure, the ICC said.
MORE NEWS

Editors' Picks

Enter your email to subscribe
Please, enter correct email address
Subscribe
* indicates required
* indicates required
Subscribe
* indicates required
* indicates required
Subscribe
* indicates required

Subscribe

* indicates required
Subscribe
* indicates required

Subscribe

* indicates required
Subscribe
* indicates required

Subscribe

* indicates required
* indicates required
Successfuly subscribed
Thank you for signing up for this newsletter. We’ve sent you a confirmation email.