Robert C. Blitt

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Much has been written about the Kremlin’s embrace of the Russian Orthodox Church—Moscow Patriarchate (ROC) as a lever of soft power for advancing Russia’s foreign policy. Based on the substance of the constitutional amendments ratified in July 2020, this chapter reasons that the church-state partnership is poised to grow stronger and more entrenched in the coming years.

After briefly highlighting the energizing effect several key constitutional amendments are likely to have on existing Kremlin foreign policy objectives, this chapter offers an assessment of the ROC’s central role in disseminating and advocating these newly minted constitutional norms across its international platforms for interreligious, civil society and diplomatic engagement. Given that the constitutional amendments position the Church as an even more vital Kremlin instrument and bless President Vladimir Putin’s ability to retain power, the chapter concludes that policymakers should consider divesting the ROC of its veneer as an autonomous religious actor and adopt measures intended to scrutinize its activities and expose them where necessary as manifestations of Kremlin influence.

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