Putin: Leader of the Orthodox Slavs

After Moscow’s intervention in Syria, things have changed noticeably on the ground. Russian President Vladimir Putin is behaving like a tsar, driven in Syria by religious and nationalist fervor, as well as by a desire for revenge against the United States and NATO, and to restore Russian dignity. Moscow also wants access to the seas of the Middle East for economic reasons.

We must be fully aware of the significance of the historical motivations that are moving Putin, motivations that he is not trying to hide. He recently told a Ukrainian Orthodox Church delegation: “Constantinople [present-day Istanbul in Turkey] must be returned to the Christians as per the aspirations of Tsar Nicolas II.”

During the Russian-Ottoman war, the tsarist state emphasized the role of Christian leadership and the resumption of the Crusades to ‘liberate’ the Holy Land, after the Catholic Church in Europe - led by the Vatican - abandoned this duty.

Russia wanted to ‘liberate’ the eastern capital of Christianity, Constantinople, as well as the birthplace of Jesus Christ. France and Britain joined forces with the Ottomans to repel the Russian threat.

We must be fully aware of the significance of the historical motivations that are moving Putin

Mshari al-Thaydi

Correcting history?

Putin’s actions in the Syrian city of Aleppo, and the tricks performed by his Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov throughout the peace process, reveal that the Russian president is fighting with this period of history in the back of his mind.

Last year, he blessed the launch of Russian Orthodox TV channel Stari Grad. This name represents Constantinople. The patriarch of the Russian Church described Putin as a “miracle of the Lord” who has managed to lift his country.

All this is happening while US. President Barack Obama spends his last days at the White House enjoying a jazz party, or joking with his guests at the final correspondents’ dinner of his administration that his country may be coming to an end.

This article was first published in Asharq al-Awsat on May 02, 2016.
Saudi journalist Mshari Al Thaydi presents Al Arabiya News Channel’s “views on the news” daily show “Maraya.” He has previously held the position of a managing senior editor for Saudi Arabia & Gulf region at pan-Arab newspaper Asharq al-Awsat. Al Thaydi has published several papers on political Islam and social history of Saudi Arabia. He appears as a guest on several radio and television programs to discuss the ideologies of extremist groups and terrorists.

Last Update: Wednesday, 20 May 2020 KSA 09:48 - GMT 06:48
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