Cyprus Orthodox Church head says ‘no excuse’ for Ukraine war

Russian President Vladimir Putin is waging an unchristian and nonsensical war against the people of Ukraine, the influential Orthodox Church leader of Cyprus said on Tuesday.

Archbishop Chrysostomos II publicly criticised the invasion of Ukraine by fellow Christian Orthodox brethren Russia, to which the Cyprus Church has close ties.

Russian Orthodox Patriarch Kirill has blessed his country’s conflicts abroad, and is a pillar of Putin’s ruling apparatus.

“There is no excuse to go and destroy another country,” his Cypriot counterpart told state TV broadcaster CyBC.

“To go and flatten another country for no reason makes no sense,” Chrysostomos added.

“I am saddened because people are being killed,” said Chrysostomos.

He argued there was “no logic” to Putin’s actions, which show “he is not behaving like a Christian”.

The archbishop also raised doubts about Putin’s mental state, saying: “I don’t know if this person is well, the way he is behaving.”

At the Vatican, the Roman Catholic Pope Francis has denounced a war where “defenceless civilians” have suffered “heinous massacres and atrocious cruelty”.

French police arrived on Monday in Ukraine to help investigate alleged Russian war crimes but Russia’s defence ministry said the mission aims to “fabricate accusations”.

Last week, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky addressed the Cypriot parliament as part of a series of video speeches he has made to foreign legislatures.

He urged Cyprus to revoke passports issued to Russians through an investment scheme. Zelensky said the European Union member has “tools to pressure” Russia, with which it has traditionally close political and cultural ties.

Cyprus has backed the EU’s sanctions against Russia.