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31 July, 2013 16:27   ▪  

The Economist: the 1,025th anniversary of the baptism of Kyivan Rus demonstrated Putin’s and Patriarch’s Kirill I nostalgia for common space of Russian-Orthodox civilisation

Celebrating of the 1,025th anniversary of the baptism of Kyivan Rus, a medieval federation of eastern Slavic princedoms, in Kyiv amid rising concerns in Russia over Ukraine’s future the Economist reports.

The visit to Kyiv on July 27th of Patriarch Kirill I of the Russian Orthodox Church and Vladimir Putin was a message to Ukraine: Don’t stray from the common space of our Russian-Orthodox civilisation.

To prevent the signing of association agreement between Ukraine and the EU, what in some case might mean a defeat in fight for Ukraine, the Kremlin strengthened on using its soft powers. Especially, by promoting the ideological concept of the Russkiy Mir (Russian World), which places Moscow at the center of the Orthodox civilisation of largely Russian-speaking nations. At its core are the three eastern Slavic states, Belarus, Russia, and Ukraine, which Kirill I, the movement’s unofficial leader, believes must maintain spiritual and cultural unity under the Russian Orthodox Church.

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Moscow has recently extended both carrots and sticks, warning Ukraine it would lose its observer status in the customs union of Russia, Belarus and Kazakhstan, which accounts for over a third of its exports.

Regardless of the cheap gas and open borders that are promised to Ukraine for full membership in the Custom Union, Arkady Moshes from a think tank the Finnish Institute for International Affairs claims “Russia has nothing that would resemble its former leadership in terms of ideas: pan-Slavism in the 19th century and communism in the 20th.”

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Concluding the Economist writes, that “to be effective, soft power should be based on some promise of future prosperity: EU membership comes with prospects of rising living standards; America aims to spread liberal democracy. The idea of the Russian World only looks to a common past, with little to say about the future.” 

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