VLADIVOSTOK, April 21. /TASS/. The adventurous scheme of creating an autocephalous Orthodox Church in Ukraine was initiated by Washington, which is now trying to force local Orthodox churches into recognizing this new entity, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said in an interview to the Zvezda TV channel’s host Olga Belova.
He stressed that the "arsenal of US policy towards Russia was complemented with a frontal attack on Orthodoxy lately."
"Bearing in mind that the Russian Orthodox Church holds the leading positions in world Orthodoxy we have enough facts to assert that Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew’s plot of granting autocephaly to what has been called the Orthodox Church of Ukraine was in fact inspired and orchestrated by the United States," Lavrov said. "Washington is now putting harsh pressures on other Orthodox churches, which have refused to support the arbitrary decision made by the Ecumenical Patriarch to force them somehow to recognize what has happened."
"This unceremonious and crude intervention in ecclesiastical affairs runs counter to all diplomatic rules and practices of international law. It is deplorable," Lavrov said.
Since the moment it seized power in February 2014 Ukraine’s current leadership has pressed for the idea of creating a local church not connected with the canonical Moscow Patriarchate. In April last year, President Pyotr Poroshenko asked Patriarch Bartholomew in person for grating autocephaly to the Ukrainian Church. On December 15 Constantinople’s emissaries and the Ukrainian authorities held what was presented as a Unification Council. Two schismatic organizations - the Kiev Patriarchate and the Ukrainian Autocephalous Orthodox Church - declared creation of the Orthodox Church of Ukraine. On January 6, the Ecumenical Patriarch handed a Tomos of Autocephaly to the head of the Orthodox Church of Ukraine Metropolitan Epiphany.
The Russian Orthodox Church regards the controversial Tomos of Autocephaly and the so-called "Unification Council" void. In October 2018, the Moscow Patriarchate severed ecclesiastical communion with the Ecumenical Patriarchate. The Ukrainian Orthodox Church made a similar decision. Not a single local church has agreed to recognize the schismatic Orthodox Church of Ukraine.