Orthodox Patriarch Kirill appoints top Russian military priest in Ukraine
Patriarch Kirill, the head of the Russian Orthodox Church (ROC), has appointed Archpriest Dimitry Vasilenkov, a cleric of the St. Petersburg bishopric, in charge of the ROC military clergy deployed in Ukraine.
Vasilenkov has been the head of the ROC’s relations with Cossack communities in the St. Petersburg region. The ROC press service announced his new role, which had been retired from the church hierarchy shortly after the Bolshevik Revolution.
The ROC leadership decided to revitalize its military clergy last summer, when it appointed a church official in charge of relations with the military, for the first time since 1918.
The Russian Orthodox Church and Patriarch Kirill have been actively involved in justifying Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, often using rhetoric that denied Ukraine’s sovereignty and the validity of the Ukrainian national identity.
Vasilenkov will serve as the head “spiritual director” to the Russian military and law enforcement workers involved in the invasion of Ukraine.