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War in Ukraine: religion and international relations

Religion plays an important role in the rhetoric used by the Russians to justify the war. Ukraine, and mostly Kiev, is presented by Russia as a cultural and religious asset for Russian identity and ambitions. What is more, the current war is interpreted as an existential and apocalyptic fight between good and evil.

View the event back on our YouTube channel.

  • 2 May 2022
  • 19:00 - 20:30
  • Webinar

The rhetoric is used by President Putin and Patriarch Kirill of Moscow to undergird Russia’s strategic goals, within Russia and Ukraine as much as abroad. The Russian Orthodox Patriarch Kirill supports the war and claims that the war is well-founded since the Slavic people are all united and originate from one baptistery in Kiev, the moment in late tenth century seen as the origin of the Russian Orthodox Church. This provides a reason to argue for the reunification of the Slavic people, and positioning them together against the non-Christian and amoral West.

Decoratieve afbeelding voor webinar War in Ukraine

This rhetoric has consequences, in the way Russia positions itself against attempts to negotiate an end to the war, in the way Ukraine and the international community react to this war, and in the way the world of Orthodoxy, both in Ukraine and outside Ukraine, reacts to Kirill’s stance. During this webinar, we attempt to better understand this religious rhetoric and in its political and religious consequences, within Russia and Ukraine, and in the rest of the world. 


  • Heleen Murre-van den Berg, professor of global Christianity, Radboud University - Introduction
  • Evert van der Zweerde, professor of philosophical ethics and political philosophy, Radboud University - Between Ideology and Realpolitik – The Russian Case
  • Kristina Stoeckl, professor of sociology, University of Innsbruck, Austria -  Political theologies in the Russian Orthodox Church
  • Michael Bakker, rector at St Irenaeus Orthodox Theological Institute, Radboud University & priest of the Orthodox Parish St Nicholas of Myra in Amsterdam - The Relations between Church and State in Ukraine, Russia and the Netherlands in the Light of the War
  • Beatrice de Graaf, professor of history of international relations & security and terrorism researcher, Utrecht University - Russia’s apocalyptical security doctrine: how the nuclear-orthodox philosophy has infused the national security paradigm

More information and registration

This webinar will be in English. Please register via this link.

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