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The religious roots of Russia’s distrust of the West


I wouldn’t utterly disagree with a number of the factors raised within the article “Anti-Western sentiment as the idea of Russian unity”, closely criticized by one other RI contributor, Eric Kraus.

There’s a deeper anti-Western sentiment in Russian id than is implied by the latest rise in anti-Western sentiment amongst Russians, primarily attributable to what’s perceived as aggression by the US and NATO.

<figcaption>St. Alexander Nevsky stopped the absorption of Russia into Catholic Europe and thus saved the Russian Orthodox faith</figcaption>” src=””/><figcaption>Saint Alexander Nevsky stopped the absorption of Russia into Catholic Europe and thus saved the Russian Orthodox faith</figcaption></figure>
<p>So what is one of the main causes of Russia’s historical distrust of the West?</p>
<p>For centuries, the Vatican has attempted to convert Russian Orthodox Christians to Catholicism.  And they have succeeded in doing so with Orthodox Christians in Western Ukraine and parts of the Western Balkans.  Even today, Vatican fanaticism is alive and well.  The Vatican is trying to achieve “ecclesial union with Orthodox Christians”, of course under the primacy of the pope.</p>
<p>Foreign invaders – the Vatican as well as Swedish and Polish forces, Napoleon, Hitler and NATO – were seen as violent symbols of Western civilization.</p>
<p>However, Russian identity is not formed as a historical reaction or reflex to Western expansionism.  By its nature, Russian culture is not anti-Western or based on antagonism towards foreign civilizations or concepts.</p>
<p>Many Russians would say that the Russian identity belongs to a different “code” of civilization as a successor to the great Byzantine tradition and civilization.  This is the reason why the Russian Empire was for centuries considered the Third Rome.  The Orthodox civilization differs from its Western counterpart in terms of values, tradition, religion, etc. </p>
<p>I just read Samuel Huntington <em>Clash of civilizations</em>.  Huntington asserts that people’s cultural and religious identities will be the main source of conflict in the post-Cold War world.  Many would say that is exactly what is happening in today’s world.  Most recent conflicts have religious or cultural causes.  Moreover, the bloody civil wars in the Balkans and now in Ukraine have had a strong religious and civilizational dimension. </p>
<p>Let’s not forget that many American and European Christian conservatives support Putin because of his Christian outlook and pro-family values.  Perhaps they are fed up with their own governments’ blatantly anti-Christian and anti-family approach to social issues?</p>
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