Russian Orthodox Army

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Russian Orthodox Army
(Русская православная армия)
Participant in War in Donbass
Flag of the Russian Orthodox Army.svg
Flag of the Russian Orthodox Army
ActiveMay 2014–present
IdeologyRussian nationalism[1][2]
Russian Orthodox extremism[3]
LeaderIgor Girkin[3]
HeadquartersDonetsk, Donetsk Oblast, Ukraine
Area of operationsDonbass, Ukraine
Part of United Armed Forces of Novorossiya
Battles and war(s)War in Donbass

The Russian Orthodox Army (Russian: Русская православная армия, Russkaya pravoslavnaya armiya) is a militant group in Ukraine that was founded in May 2014, as part of the insurgency and following War in Donbass.[1] It reportedly had 100 members at the time of its founding, including locals and Russian volunteers. As fighting between separatists and the Ukrainian government worsened in Donbass, their membership rose to 350, and later 4,000.[3] Notable engagements of the ROA include the June 2014 skirmishes in Mariupol and Amvrosiivka Raion.[7] The headquarters of the ROA is located in an occupied Security Service of Ukraine (SBU) building in Donetsk city.[8] Members had no special training apart from the usual conscription service in the army[9] and swore allegiance to Igor Girkin ("Strelkov"), insurgent and Minister of Defence of the self-declared Donetsk People's Republic. Along with other separatist groups in the region, the ROA has been noted of "kidnapp[ing], beat[ing], and threaten[ing] Protestants, Catholics, and members of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church… as well as participat[ing] in anti-Semitic acts."[4] In late November 2014, the group gained attention after abducting prominent Ukrainian Greek Catholic priest, Sergeii Kulbaka, and Roman Catholic priest, Father Pawel Witek.[5][6] According to the Defence Ministry of Ukraine, the ROA has also been in conflict with another pro-Russian militia, the Vostok Battalion, which accused the ROA of looting, and of avoiding combat.[10][11]



  1. ^ a b "У самопровозглашенной Донецкой республики появилась новая армия — Русская православная (In the self-proclaimed republic of Donetsk, a new army - Russian Orthodox)". InfoResist (in Russian). 10 May 2014. Retrieved 13 July 2014.
  2. ^ Самопроголошеному міністру оборони "ДНР" І. Стрєлкову інкримінується створення терористичної організації та вчинення терактів в Україні [Strelkova, the self-proclaimed minister of defence of the DNR terrorist organization, charged with creating and committing acts of terrorism in Ukraine]. Prosecutor General's Office of Ukraine (in Ukrainian). 21 May 2014. Retrieved 16 June 2014.
  3. ^ a b c d "Meet the Russian Orthodox Army, Ukrainian Separatists' Shock Troops". NBC News. 16 May 2014. Retrieved 13 July 2014.
  4. ^ a b c United States Department of State (2015). International Religious Freedom Report for 2014 (Report). Retrieved 20 January 2017.
  5. ^ a b Liubchenkova, Natalia (20 November 2014). "Surviving the 'Russian Orthodox Army'". The Media Project. Retrieved 27 January 2017.
  6. ^ a b c Wiser, Daniel (15 October 2015). "Russia Targets Christians, Religious Minorities in Ukraine". The Washington Free Beacon. Retrieved 21 January 2017.
  7. ^ "В Мариуполе бойцы Ляшко задержали представителя "Русской православной армии" (In Mariupol Ljashko fighters detained by "Russian Orthodox army")". Mariupol News (in Russian). 13 June 2014. Retrieved 13 July 2014.
  8. ^ "Репортаж из казармы Русской Православной Армии (Reports of Russian Orthodox Army barracks)". (in Russian). 17 June 2014. Retrieved 13 July 2014.
  9. ^ Baczynska, Gabriela (2 June 2014). "Quoting Old Testament, New Pro-Russia Militia Group Lines Up in Ukraine". Charisma News. Retrieved 21 January 2017.
  10. ^ Daryna Krasnolutska; Tony Capaccio; Volodymyr Verbyany (27 July 2014). "Ukraine Army Advances as EU Plans Tougher Putin Sanctions". Bloomberg News. Retrieved 16 January 2015.
  11. ^ Сили АТО знищили снайперів у Лисичанську [ATO forces destroyed snipers in Lysychansk]. Ukrayinska Pravda (in Ukrainian). 26 July 2014. Retrieved 16 January 2015.