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Russia’s effort to keep Ukraine under its thumb prompted a revolution in 2014 and a war that has claimed more than 10,000 lives. It also prompted, on Monday, what may be one of the most serious splits in Christendom since the Great Schism between Rome and Constantinople in 1054 and the Protestant Reformation 500 years ago. This new crisis has deep historical roots, and could shape religious and secular ties among many countries for years to come.

Here’s what happened: The Church of Russia announced this week that it was breaking ties with the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople, which has primacy in Orthodoxy and which has decided to give autonomy to the Ukrainian Orthodox Church.…  Seguir leyendo »

For centuries, even when Athens was a bastion of the West during the Cold War, Greece and Russia have seen themselves as natural allies. Both are Christian Orthodox nations on Islam’s western frontiers; even as a NATO member, Greece tried to maintain channels of communication with the Soviet Union. Yet a sudden dispute over alleged Russian meddling in Greek affairs has escalated rapidly. This could have long-term consequences for Greek-Russian ties and for the Western Balkans.

This month, Athens informed Moscow that it was expelling two Russian diplomats and refusing entry to two others. Among the accusations: the four were trying to stoke opposition to a recent agreement signed by Greece and a northern neighbor, the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, ending a 27-year dispute over the latter’s name.…  Seguir leyendo »

Es Rusia una alternativa para Grecia

La visita de Alexis Tsipras a Moscú se ha anticipado un mes a la fecha inicialmente acordada y se produce en medio de la negociación que mantiene con el FMI, el BCE y la Comisión (antigua Troika) sobre el plan de reformas económicas que permita desbloquear los 7.200 millones de euros que el país griego necesita para no caer en la bancarrota.

Parece razonable pensar que el primer ministro griego busque en Moscú un apoyo financiero alternativo para enfrentar la falta de liquidez que atenaza la economía y la sociedad de su país. También es evidente que, para el presidente Putin, el apoyo de Grecia puede resultar útil en su conflicto estratégico y económico con la UE y la OTAN, con vistas a bloquear futuras sanciones y medidas de presión militar.…  Seguir leyendo »

En las dos últimas semanas, las dos crisis que enfrenta Europa —en Ucrania y en Grecia— han escalado. En cada caso, Alemania y su canciller, Angela Merkel, han estado en el corazón de los esfuerzos por alcanzar una resolución diplomática. Este es un nuevo papel para Alemania, y el país todavía no se hizo a la idea. El último intento por frenar la guerra en el este de Ucrania por medios diplomáticos duró incluso menos que el primer intento en septiembre pasado. El nuevo acuerdo —que, como el anterior, tuvo lugar en Minsk— reconoció de facto que Ucrania ha quedado dividida por medios militares.…  Seguir leyendo »

Greece eyeing Russia card?

Perhaps the weirdest story I heard during my visit to Athens was that the new government might even try to get bridge financing from Russia if Europe does not accept the demands of Syriza, the radical leftist party (the Coalition of the Radical Left), which swept snap elections in Greece. In a way, Syriza is indeed schmoozing up to Russia:

• Syriza chose the pro-Russian right-wing populists of ANEL, the Greek version of UKIP and AfD, as their coalition partner over pro-European Potami.

• Just hours after taking office, Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras went to see the Russian ambassador on Jan.…  Seguir leyendo »