Mosaic Art

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine threatens a cultural heritage shared by the two countries, including St. Sophia Cathedral | Pro Club Bd

(The Conversation is an independent and not-for-profit source for news, analysis, and commentary from academic experts.)

J Eugene Clay, Arizona State University

(THE TALK) More than 160 Ukrainian cultural sites have been damaged or destroyed since Russia invaded the country in February 2022, according to UNESCO.

The Ukrainian government claims the number of damaged sites is much higher. Russia denies these allegations.

Ukrainian officials accuse Russia of deliberately targeting cultural sites, half of which are churches, monasteries, places of worship, synagogues and mosques. Such targeting would be a violation of international law.

As a scholar who has studied Russian and Ukrainian religion and culture for over 30 years, I am deeply concerned about the cultural destruction of this war, which has already claimed thousands of lives and displaced over 12 million Ukrainians.

An important monument under threat is St. Sophia Cathedral in Kyiv. Built in the 11th century, the church is one of Ukraine’s seven World Heritage Sites recognized by the United Nations. It represents the common Orthodox Christian faith shared by many Russians and Ukrainians.

Saint Sophia and the Byzantine model

Saint Sophia Cathedral was built under the rule of Grand Duke Yaroslav the Wise, whose father Volodymyr – also known as Vladimir – had converted to Orthodox Christianity in 988.

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