By: Cliff Kincaid
Accuracy in Media
An article titled, “Iraq’s Christians See Putin As Savior,” appeared on the website of The Daily Beast in late June. It was picked up by literally dozens of “news” sites all over the Internet, contributing to the perception that Russia was actually prepared to do something on behalf of these Christians and other minorities.
The article referred to “Russia’s increasingly cozy relationship with Middle Eastern Christians” and included a photo of Putin under a halo.
But when the Christians in Iraq actually needed some help, it was the U.S. and Britain which intervened on their behalf. Humanitarian aid was delivered to the minority religious groups under attack, and air strikes were conducted against the terrorists. Later, France and Australia joined in the effort.
The Christian “Stand Firm in Faith” website asks, “So where is President Putin now that Christians are being wiped out in Iraq?”
“So now Putin keeps his shirt on?” writer Timothy Fountain asked.
The latter is a reference to the many photos of a shirtless Putin. He has been shirtless on a horse, holding a rifle and fishing.
Walter Hickey at Business Insider had published “39 Photos That Prove Vladimir Putin Is The Most Badass Leader In The World.” These photos also showed Putin firing weapons, on a motorcycle, and in a race car.
But this tough guy hasn’t lifted a finger of behalf of persecuted Christians in Iraq.
While some argue with justification that the U.S. effort has not been enough and too slow, I searched the website of the Russian Embassy in Washington to see if there was an announcement of Russia participating in, or offering the delivery of, aid to Christians and others in Iraq—and could find nothing.
There is no evidence that the “international partners” helping Christians and other minorities in Iraq include Russia. Instead, Putin has been trying to sneak “humanitarian aid” into Ukraine, to benefit the Russian terrorists who shot down the Malaysian airliner with nearly 300 passengers.
One can search the Internet and find all kinds of stories about how Putin is not only defending Christians but is supposed to be a Christian himself. A story carried by the Christian Post said, “Putin has long been a supporter of Christianity and Christian values within Russia. He has called for the Church to play a larger role in citizens’ social lives, better religion classes in schools, and television programs emphasizing religious values.”
Some other stories include:
- “Pope, Putin Summit to Benefit Christians” from Newsmax
- “Vladimir Putin, Christian Crusader?” from The American Conservative, and written by Patrick J. Buchanan
- “Putin Policies Aim to Defend Christian Beliefs” from the Liberty Voice blog
- “Vladimir Putin is a Christian Man” from The Daily Stormer (an anti-Semitic site)
- “US threatened by Russia’s Christianity” from the Russian Pravda
- “Russia will develop as democratic state, defend Christian values—Putin” from the Voice of Russia
- “Putin promises to protect Christianity worldwide” from Russia Today
The Timothy Fountain article noted that “Just over two years ago, Russia’s President received a briefing from Metropolitan Hilarion, the foreign relations representative of the Russian Orthodox Church.” Putin was told, “Every five minutes one Christian was dying for his or her faith in some part of the word.”
After hearing several examples of the persecution of Christians, Putin replied with an offer of help and said, “You needn’t have any doubt that that’s the way it will be.”
It turns out that the source of the report about Putin vowing to defend Christians around the world was Russia Today (RT), the well-known disinformation outlet for Russian propaganda.
Indeed, RT, on February 12, 2012, ran a story headlined, “Putin promises to protect Christianity worldwide,” which stated that “Putin has promised to make the protection of repressed Christians in foreign countries one of his foreign policy priorities…”
This is the story cited earlier about the Russian Orthodox head of External Church Relations, Metropolitan Hilarion, saying that every five minutes one Christian was dying for his or her faith in some part of the world, “specifying that he was talking about such countries as Iraq, Egypt, Pakistan and India.”
According to an RT report of Putin’s meeting with Pope Francis, “The Kremlin announced ahead of the visit that Putin and Pope Francis would focus on the state of international institutions and their ability to respond to crises, as well as the protection of Christian minorities in the Maghreb and the Middle East.”
The Russian Embassy website features news of Russian deliveries of “humanitarian” aid to Syria, but nothing to Christians in Iraq. In Syria, Russia is better known for its weapons deliveries to the Assad regime, a long-time Soviet client state.
Last August, so-called Tea Party leader Judson Phillips had written in The Washington Times that “Putin said world leaders must come together to stop the violent persecution of Christians in the Middle East. Something is wrong when Putin is a greater champion for freedom and liberty than the President of the United States is.”
“While Putin has called for protections for the Middle East’s Christians, Obama has been playing golf,” Phillips wrote last August.
Well, Obama went golfing again, but at least he finally did something on behalf of the Christians in Iraq.
Yes, Obama could have done more, and he should have acted sooner. But Putin has done nothing on behalf of Christians in Iraq—except talk. For some reason, this talk impresses some people in the U.S. who should know better.
In terms of action, Putin is delivering Mi-35 helicopter gunships, Mi-28 attack helicopters and Su-25 fighters to the Baghdad regime. One weapons deal alone is worth $1 billion. But there’s no hard evidence these weapons are being used to help or rescue Christians in Iraq.
In his August 12 column, Pat Buchanan calls Putin a potential ally “in a coalition to contain or crush” the Islamic State terrorists. So far, this potential ally has not reported for duty.
It appears that Putin is more interested in doing weapons deals that make rubles for his regime and his cronies. His halo looks like another KGB deception.