In October 2015, Russia’s newly launched military intervention in defense of embattled Syrian President Bashar al-Assad received a clerical blessing. Patriarch Kirill, the powerful leader of the Russian Orthodox Church and a close ally of President Vladimir Putin, declared the operation “a responsible decision to use military forces to protect the Syrian people from the woes brought on by the tyranny of terrorists.” The main spokesman for Kirill’s church went even further: “The fight with terrorism is
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