Russia used the opportunities available to members of the Moscow Patriarchate for reconnaissance ahead of the annexation of Crimea in 2014, the Security Service of Ukraine (SBU) claims in an information booklet it published.
“On March 30, 2014, the armed group of the terrorist Igor Girkin (Strelkov) conducts reconnaissance in Simferopol disguised as guards for the "Gifts of the Magi" church sanctuaries,” the handbook states.
The authors of the booklet view this incident as one of several examples of “assistance from Moscow Patriarchate clergymen in Russian aggression in Crimea and in the Donbas”.
The SBU has developed a series of information booklets on the methods used by Russia while launching its aggression in Ukraine. A photograph of the first copies of these booklets was published on December 10.
The topic of the first two issues was the Kremlin’s use of religious organizations.
“The purposeful instigation by the Russian intelligence agencies of inter-confessional conflicts in Ukraine, in conjunction with the provocations of outright terrorist actions, could become a reason for open military invasion by the Armed Forces of Russia in our country,” SBU head Vasyl Hrytsak is cited as saying.
The Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the Moscow Patriarchate has not yet commented on this statement. There has also been no comment from the Russian Orthodox Church or Russian government on this matter.