"Moscow is behaving in a way that is imposing sanctions upon itself by self-isolating itself as it has done politically ever since it annexed (the Ukrainian territory of) Crimea in 2014", Yevstratiy (Ivan) Zorya, spokesperson for the Ukraine Orthodox Church of the Kyiv Patriarchate, told the Kyiv Post at Mykhailivsky Cathedral in Kyiv on October 15.
The bishop said Constantinople's decision to recognise all Ukrainian churches as independent from Moscow went "against historical truth". In response, the Kyiv Patriarchate's Ukrainian Orthodox Church called the Russian Orthodox Church's move "self-isolation in retaliation for legal decisions by the world community".
The ROC indicates that "from now on, until the Constantinople Patriarchate refused the anticanonical decisions it made for all clergymen of the Russian Orthodox Church, it is impossible to serve with the clergy of the Constantinople church, and for the laity - to participate in the sacraments performed in its churches".
In practical terms, the concern now is over what happens to the thousands of sites in Ukraine where services by the Moscow Patriarchate are held.
Constantinople holds sway over more than 300 million Orthodox Christians across the world. The stated reason for the suspension is the "anti-canonical actions of the Constantinople Patriarchate, which opened communication channels to schismatics in Ukraine and thereby encroached on the Russian Orthodox Church's canonical territory".
Now priests from the two churches will be barred from serving together, while worshippers of one will not take communion in the other.
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The Russian Orthodox Church has drafted a list for tourists of all the churches where they can no longer pray. Ukraine today is more unified, more nationalist, more oriented toward Europe and North Atlantic Treaty Organisation and the West than it has even been true before, and that's a direct result of Russia's intervention in Ukraine and killing of Ukrainians, ' he said as quoted by EUObserver.
Patriarch Bartholomew affirmed that Moscow doesn't have jurisdiction over "today's Metropolis of Kyiv" and that the "canonical dependence of Kyiv to the Mother Church of Constantinople remained constant and uninterrupted". "It's an issue of Ukrainian statehood", he said.
The Moscow branch of the Ukrainian Church has denied being a tool of the Kremlin, and says it has tried to bring about peace in eastern Ukraine.
The split marks a historic turning point for the global Orthodox community, but it is the result of the collapse in relations between Russian Federation and Ukraine of the past four years that followed Moscow's seizure of Crimea in 2014 and the subsequent separatist war in eastern Ukraine, which is ongoing. Moscow refused to recognize the decisions and blamed Constantinople for initiating what could become the biggest church schism since the 11th century, when Orthodoxy and Catholicism split apart.
The Russian church's breakaway is therefore a major upheaval for global Orthodoxy.