Staunton, Sept. 19 – As Putin’s war in Ukraine has become longer, mysticism is spreading among Russian military units there, the result of local activism in various parts of the Russian Federation and the active intervention of the defense ministry and the Russian Orthodox Church.
According to Insider journalist Nikita Aronov, “enchanted objects are being included in packages sent to the front lines for protection against bullets” and “Orthodox priests and Buryat shamans are making their way to the front” to reassure Russian soldiers that their cause is just and that heavenly forces will protect them (theins.ru/obshestvo/264086).
“In contrast to the situation in earlier conflicts,” she continues, “this magical mindset is now being embraced in Russia not only at the grassroots level but also from the upper echelons of the state with battalions named after saints and all-Russian media reporting without restraint miracles” that supposedly have happened.
Russian Orthodox activists are sending special paper icons and other objects that they say will reassure and protect Russian fighters from Ukrainian bullets; and other denominations are following suit. Perhaps the most intriguing efforts are being made by Buddhists and shamanistic faiths.
Balzhina Tsyrenov, a Buddhist leader at the Tsugol Datsan, says that his organization is sending amulets to soldiers in Ukraine to protect them from death. He recounts that these amulets have a long history and that the current effort is modeled on what Buddhists did in support of Baron Ungern in Mongolia in 1920-1921.
According to Tsyrenov, “Baron Ungern always charged into battle ahead of his troops, but bullets never got to him because he wore such amulets. After battles, he would take off his uniform with the epaulettes of a general, and bullets would rain down from him. He perished because of human treachery – he was arrested, the talisman was removed, and he was shot.”
Aleksandra Arkhipova, a Russian anthropologist, says that this use of amulets and miracle working goods like icons “could be part of a larger state narrative, an attempt to how that this war is not for territory, not for a land corridor to Crimea but rather a holy, even divine war” and that in this struggle, “God is on the side of Russia.”