It would be unwise to trust every word Putin says
In an article entitled ‘Threat of future Russian aggression remains,’ (20-3-2014) the Financial Times leads by saying, “We do not want to divide Ukraine . . .declared Vladimir Putin in his triumphant speech to Russia’s parliament [last] Tuesday. Other Ukrainian regions, he added, would not follow Crimea in breaking away. But Mr Putin had said two weeks earlier he “did not consider” the possibility of Crimea joining Russia. On Tuesday, he welcomed it into the Russian Federation.”
If you would like to read this article in full, sign up to claim eight free articles a month from The Financial Times. The bottom line is that the Russian propaganda system is working overtime to spin the myth that Russia’s ‘Slavic brothers’ are in desperate need of being rescued from the ‘Fascists’ who have taken over in Kiev.
Clampdown and Censorship
A leading Russian historian, Andrei Zubov, has courageously published a detailed comparison between Russia’s seizure of Crimea and Adolf Hitler’s annexation of Austria, warning that both were pivotal moments in overthrowing the status quo in Europe, and initiating the catastrophic chain of events we are all so familiar with.
Putin’s claims to be defending “compatriots” makes a good rationale to justify his actions, but in all probability he is unlikely to be much more concerned for the average Russian citizen in other regions than Hitler was for ethnic Germans in either Austria or Sudetenland. As Timothy Snyder, Professor of history at Yale University, writes “the suggestion that anyone who speaks Russian needs a Russian invasion would mean that since I am writing in English I [as an American] need an English invasion.”
In a move reminiscent of Soviet clampdowns, Andrei Zubov has been fired from his position as Professor of Philosophy at a prestigious university for daring to make such comparisons. He told the Russian New Times magazine “I am afraid, but there are situations in which you have to act, regardless of your own fear”.
Reporters without Borders are also extremely concerned about the clampdown on Internet sites the Russian Duma (Parliament) has recently sanctioned.
Pray for deliverance of the Russian people from the powers of deception, exploitation and darkness.
Hitler’s take-over of Austria showed what one bold man could do if he were determined enough. For the next year or two Hitler set the ‘rules’ to define the new world order. And it was Austria’s Jewish minority who bore the brunt of it in the form of anti-Semitic violence. Austria having been abandoned to its fate, European leaders refused to rise to the challenge when democratic Czechoslovakia was likewise taken over by stages along with its considerable resources – especially the armaments industry. Czech factories made all the difference to equipping the Panzer Divisions to such a high standard of armament.
It was not until Poland in 1939 that the West realised it had to make a stand, by which time it was almost too late. Putin has likewise tested the resolve of the West, and, as he fully expected after the Georgia experience, has found nothing in it to deter him from his purposes.
Join in prayer with the Christians of Ukraine
There are three mega churches in Kiev: Victory Church, Hillsong and Embassy of God, (which claims to be the largest charismatic church in Europe). We can be quite sure that there are many thousands of people praying earnestly in the Ukraine at the moment against the military forces currently massing on the border from sweeping over into their country.
But how should the West respond, given that its room for manoeuvring in any meaningful way appears so limited? As a general rule, if you fail to stand up to a bully, aggressive predators are usually emboldened. To do nothing therefore would appear to be completely the wrong thing. But as we explored in the last edition, the West is understandably reluctant to do this having, perhaps foolishly, intertwined its day to day prosperity so closely to Russia’s willingness to supply it.
What then of psychological advice that it is important to leave people of Putin’s temperament some measure of ‘room for manoeuvre’? People backed into corners can certainly become all the more unpredictable. There is an obvious need for in depth communication with Putin, but this is made the more complicated in that he is showing no signs of wanting to reach any rapprochement with the West. As already mentioned, the Russian media channels are working overtime to portray the situation in East Ukraine as being so out of control that people are desperate for Russia to intervene. Pray for our far from perfect leaders as they weigh all the factors in the equation as best they can – and for the Lord to be at work behind the scenes. The build-up has been relentless. As Dad prayed in church last week:
Pray for wisdom for the leaders of the world that they may know the clarity of the Holy Spirit, discern the will of the Father and have the courage to obey it.
Remember the Crimea, now ruled by Stalin’s successors of Stalin, many of them former KGB men.
Pray for returned exiles of the Stalinist persecution and deportation, with their tragic memories and present fears.
Pray for members of the Ukrainian armed forces who are being withdrawn from Crimea, and who feel betrayed but at least so far are safe: their wives and families.
Pray for young people, won over by the promises of the Russia, hoping for so much but entering a time of great uncertainty.
Pray above all for the power of the Prince of Peace to turn many hearts to Himself in all the countries most directly affected.
Lord have mercy. Christ have mercy.
And what of the lessons to be learnt from government “shrinkage” of expenditure in all this? For every £1 pound spent on flood defences, it is estimated that £4 is saved in terms of future relief and rebuilding costs. The UK Statistics Authority said that government funding was cut by £247 million in real terms last year. This makes last year’s decision to reduce flood defence spending a serious miscalculation. Is the same thing true about making such deep cuts to our Armed Forces? See this article by Lord Dannatt, former Head of the British Army in the Daily Telegraph 25th March 2014.