The recent “conservative turn” in Russian politics has raised to new levels the role of spiritual and moral values in political discourse. The new partnership formed between the Russian Orthodox Church (ROC) and the state, a modernized version of the traditional Byzantine symphonia, has also affected Russian foreign policy. One notable example is the emergence of the “Russian World” as a key concept in Russia’s relations with Ukraine and the rest of the CIS.
Although the Church plays a subordinate role in this relationship, it is far from being merely the Kremlin’s puppet. By decentering the nation, this investigation seeks to shed light on the Church’s distinct approach to politics, and show where it draws the line on cooperation with civil authorities. Only by viewing the ROC as an autonomous political and eschatological actor, will we be able to appreciate how it influences Russian foreign policy.