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Ukraine-Russia Conflict: The Religious Dimension

  • United States Institute of Peace 2301 Constitution Avenue Northwest Washington, DC, 20037 United States (map)

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The Russian government is increasingly seeking to use the Russian Orthodox Church to expand its influence in Ukraine, but the Kremlin is now meeting heightened resistance from many Ukrainian religious communities and particularly from the Ukrainian Orthodox Church-Kyiv Patriarchate. The crisis now threatens to split the Ukrainian Church from its historic ties with Moscow, potentially adding a dangerous religious dimension to the simmering war between Russia and Ukraine.

St. Michael’s Golden-Domed Monastery, Kyiv, Ukraine. (Photo courtesy of Charles North)

St. Michael’s Golden-Domed Monastery, Kyiv, Ukraine. (Photo courtesy of Charles North)

The complex situation involves religious groups in Ukraine that include Crimean Muslim Tatars, the Ukrainian Greek-Catholic Church and Jewish communities. How the religious freedom of these communities would fare in a schism between Moscow and Kyiv remains an open and vital question. Religion and religious organizations played an important role in Ukraine’s Maidan revolution, and the current crisis brings to the fore ongoing religious tensions in Russian-Ukrainian struggle for Crimea and Donbas.

In an all day conference at the U.S. Institute of Peace, Ukrainian religious leaders, scholars and others will examine the religious aspect of the Ukraine-Russia conflict and the impact of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine on religious freedom in the country. Speakers will also delve into the ecclesiastical history of the relationship between the Russian and Ukrainian churches.

The event is co-hosted by The United States Institute of Peace and The George Washington University Institute for European, Russian, and Eurasian Studies.



8:30am: Registration and Coffee

9:15am – 9:30am: Welcome and Introductory Remarks

  • Dr. Thomas Farr – President, Religious Freedom Institute

  • Ambassador Bill Taylor, Executive Vice President United States Institute of Peace

9:30am – 10:45am: The Historical-Ecclesial Context of Ukraine-Russia Relations

  • Very Rev. Dr. Mark Morozowich – Dean & Associate Professor of Liturgical Studies & Sacramental Theology, School of Theology & Religious Studies, Catholic University of America

  • Moderator: Subdeacon Cyril Kennedy – Doctoral candidate, School of Theology & Religious Studies, Catholic University of America

10:45am – 11:00am: Coffee Break

11:00am – 12:30pm: The Maidan Revolution and the Role of Religious Communities in Ukraine

  • Rt. Rev. Dr. Andriy Chirovsky – Founding Director, Metropolitan Andrey Sheptytsky Institute of Eastern Christian Studies, University of St. Michael’s College, University of Toronto

  • Dr. Paul Coyer – Research Professor, Institute of World Politics, and Associate Professor at l'École Spéciale Militaire de Saint-Cyr.

  • Ambassador John E. Herbst – Director, Eurasia Center, Atlantic Council. U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine from 2003 to 2006.

  • Moderator: Ms. Leslie Minney, Ukraine Research Coordinator, United States Institute of Peace

12:30pm – 1:30pm: Lunch

1:30pm – 2:45pm: Impact of the Russia-Ukraine Conflict on Religious Communities

  • His Grace Archbishop Yevstraty (Zoria) – Archbishop of Chernihiv, Secretary to the Holy Synod, Ukrainian Orthodox Church-Kyiv Patriarchate

  • Archimandrite Cyril Hovorun – Acting Director, Huffington Ecumenical Institute, Loyola Marymount University

  • Moderator: Dr. Sufian Zhemukhov – Associate Research Professor of International Affairs, Institute for European, Russian and Eurasian Studies (IERES), Elliott School of International Affairs, George Washington University

2:45pm - 3:00pm: Coffee

3:00pm – 4:30pm: Defending Religious Freedom & the Russia-Ukraine Conflict

  • Dr. Elizabeth H. Prodromou – Visiting Associate Professor of Conflict Resolution, The Fletcher School, Tufts University

  • Dr. Kent Hill – Executive Director, Religious Freedom Institute

  • Mr. John Pinna – Vice President, The Mitchell Firm

  • Moderator: Mr. Charles North – Senior Advisor on Ukraine, United States Institute of Peace

4:30pm: Concluding Remarks

  • Dr. Kent Hill – Executive Director, Religious Freedom Institute