Mar November 12, 2022 5:17 p.m
Private military battalions under the flag of the Orthodox Church are reportedly being prepared in Russia. They will be called St. Andrew’s Cross, and this private army is to be sent to fight in Ukraine with his blessing. According to the Russian channel Telegram Mash, this was announced by the representatives of the Orthodox Church, for example, the server Belcat or the Italian daily La Stampa reported.
The creation of a private army of the Russian Orthodox Church was informed by representatives of the community of the Kronstadt Maritime Cathedral of St. Nicholas in the Russian Federation, the Russian Telegram channel Mash specified with reference to representatives of the diocese.
The battalions will be called St. Andrew’s Cross and their members will be trained and sent to fight in Ukraine. Orthodox mercenaries will fight “under the banner” of the Orthodox Church and will be part of the Russian army. They will also receive a blessing from Alexije Gaňžin, the head representative of the temple in Kronstadt. The training of volunteers, led by experienced soldiers, is said to have already begun.
Vladimir Khilchenko became the coordinating director of the private military company, who stated that the main task of the private army is the training of volunteers to participate in the special operation in Ukraine, as Russia calls the invasion.
However, the project was created already in 2017. According to Chilčenko, the great credit for the creation of the project belongs to Alexija Gaňžin. Former Russian special forces participated in the project. But now, in connection with the war, the intention took concrete form.
Already in September, the highest representative of the Russian Orthodox Church and Moscow Patriarch Kirill declared that “whoever dies for Russia in the fight in Ukraine, all his sins will be forgiven.” During the sermon at the service, he compared Russian soldiers to Jesus Christ, who sacrificed himself for others.
The private Russian army, the so-called Wagners, had previously joined the fighting in Ukraine. At the beginning of November, the Institute for the Study of War (ISW) reported that the Wagners had allegedly already lost 800 to 1,000 mercenaries in Ukraine. In the last two months alone, more than 500 people recruited into these units have been liquidated. Wagner’s group, which often includes veterans of the Russian armed forces, fought in the Donbass since 2014 and later in Syria, Libya, Iraq and a number of countries on the African continent. Businessman Yevgeny Prigozhin admitted for the first time in October that he founded the group.