A dour-faced Vladamir Putin gave thanks to the Russian Orthodox Church’s support of his war in Ukraine, as he attended Christmas services alone in Moscow.

Putin, who held his own private Christmas Eve mass in a Kremlin cathedral Friday instead of joining public celebrations, expressed his gratitude at the church’s “massive, complex and truly selfless work” to back Russian forces.

“It is deeply gratifying to note the enormous constructive contribution of the Russian Orthodox Church and other Christian denominations in unifying society, preserving our historical memory, educating youth, and strengthening the institution of family,” Putin said in a surreal statement.

“Church organizations prioritize … supporting our warriors taking part in the special military operation,” he said in the statement, which characterized Christmas as a season that “inspires noble deeds and aspirations, and serves to reinforce in society such eternal spiritual values and moral constants as mercy, empathy, kindness, and justice.”

Putin at church
Putin gave thanks to the Russian Orthodox Church’s support of his war in Ukraine.
SPUTNIK/AFP via Getty Images
A picture of Vladimir Putin.
“Church organizations prioritize … supporting our warriors taking part in the special military operation,” Putin said in the statement
via REUTERS

The statement included photos of the president wearing a gloomy expression as he stood by his lonesome in front of religious icons at the Kremlin’s Annunciation Cathedral, and watched a priest and other religious celebrate the mass from afar.

The message came a day after Putin called for a 36-hour pause in the fighting during Orthodox Christmas, which takes place Saturday, which Kyiv rejected, branding the Russian president’s call for momentary peace a ploy to regroup while artillery continues to be exchanged.

Plumes of smoke rise from a Russian strike during a 36-hour ceasefire over Orthodox Christmas declared by Putin.
Plumes of smoke rise from a Russian strike during a 36-hour ceasefire over Orthodox Christmas declared by Putin.

Plumes of smoke rise from a Russian strike during a 36-hour ceasefire over Orthodox Christmas declared by Putin.
The war in Ukraine has divided those practicing the religion, some of whom support Moscow’s invasion and others who oppose it.


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About 100 million of the 260 million Orthodox Christians worldwide are reported to be in Russia. The war in Ukraine has divided those practicing the religion, some of whom support Moscow’s invasion and others who oppose it.

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