HOMANS: Sanction Russia’s Patriarch Kirill of the Russian Orthodox Church
One of the last remaining Russian “politically exposed persons” who, to the best of my knowledge, has not been subjected to Western sanctions is Patriarch Kirill of the Russian Orthodox Church, Moscow Patriarchate. Kirill is being willingly used to justify to the Russian People the Russian invasion of Ukraine, and the criminal behaviour of the Russian troops who are in Ukraine. Kirill should be subjected to Western sanctions for this and the following additional reasons:
- Kirill is a billionaire – Like several other Russian oligarchs now under Western Sanctions, Kirill is a billionaire. In fact, Kirill is a thoroughly corrupt billionaire. Kirill made his money during his time as Metropolitan of the Russian enclave of Kaliningrad, where he controlled cigarette smuggling. Even today, Kirill is known in some circles as the “Tobacco Metropolitan.” If being a corrupt Russian oligarch is a criterion for the West imposing sanctions then, for this reason alone Kirill qualifies.
- Kirill is likely laundering money for Putin, or at least he’s in the position to do so. Through the financial networks Kirill controls, as Patriarch, he is well placed to help Putin avoid sanctions by using the Moscow Patriarchate’s financial network to move money outside Russia and, through co-operating Patriarchates in other Eastern Orthodox countries, into the Western financial system.
- Kirill is a Russian Government Official – The Moscow Patriarchate is nothing more than an organ of the Russian State. During Putin’s annual “State of Russia” speech, Kirill sits in the front row. Every member of the Russian Duma has now been sanctioned, along with many Ministers. Kirill, as effective Head of the Russian Ministry of Religion, qualifies.
Departure from Russia of the oil services companies – A few days ago, I mentioned the departure from Russia of the oil services companies Halliburton, Baker Hughes and Schlumberger, and a report that their departure may well cost Russia up to 50% of its current oil production. Last Friday, 25 March, I spoke to a friend of mine with expertise in Venezuela. He said that when the oil services companies left Venezuela, along the firing of most Venezuelan technical experts, this reduced Venezuela’s oil production by two thirds. I am in favour of sanctioning Russian oil exports, but the sanctioning has effectively begun.
Killing of Russian generals – Since the start of the war, there have been at least six confirmed killings of Russian Army generals. The likely reason is a combination of a breakdown in tactical communications and inability of Russian junior and non-commissioned officers to make tactical decisions on their own, without first obtaining permission from headquarters. Without reliable tactical communications, Russian general officers must go to the front lines to issue orders, where there are often killed by Ukrainian snipers, or possibly even by their own men.
For the past 17 years, or as far back as I’m aware of, US training of Ukrainian units has emphasised the importance of raising the authority of non-commissioned officers, especially giving them the ability to make command decisions on their own. During the duration of this war, we’re seeing that training pay off.
Robert Homans is an international financial sector consultant based in Washington DC and tweets at @rhomansjr
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