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Many were suggesting earlier this year that Vladimir Putin was playing a very canny “chess” game in out-manoeuvring the West by successfully annexing Crimea. Look more closely and the paradoxes and with them the dangers multiply. As recently as 1991 Russia couldn’t wait to obtain independence – now it is blindly following a leaderwho undoubtedly hankers after the “glories” of the former Soviet Union. One thing is for certain: Russian TV is presenting these issues in an entirely different light from our own networks!

We sent out important thoughts about the whole nature of “propaganda” back in March of this year; this might be a good time to revisit that article.

In a recent BBC Panorama the outspoken broadcaster John Sweeney concluded his programme on Putin by sounding extremely strong warnings to the effect that risk “the lights going out once again” over Europe. The Patriarch of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church goes still further, stating on record his belief that President Putin has actually opened his heart to Satan and become demonised.

On a number of occasions – not least during an excellent interview he gave on Hard Talk on the BBC – President Poreshenko reinforced the warning that events in Ukraine have the potential to destabilise the whole of Europe. But let’s not forget either that the majority of people in Eastern Ukraine actually want independence from Kiev, and that the Kiev government itself has been guilty of equally grievous outrages in terms of shelling civilian populations.

We have suggested before that the root of the crisis in Ukraine has every bit as much to do with the EU’s far from lily white attempts to incorporate Ukraine into NATO, rather than just with Putin’s desire to restore former Russian territory.  This article effectively says the same thing.

Secondly, recent reports indicate that several thousand Russian troops are currently leaving Ukraine and returning to their home country. (Troops which Russia, of course, denies were ever there!) This makes the decision to implement sanctions perhaps the more surprising. These present ones are far more far reaching, affecting such things as Russia’s determined advances to extract oil in the Arctic (it is well ahead of other countries in this lucrative sphere).

See articles such as this one for a glimpse of how far reaching these sanctions could be, were the EU and America to act seriously in consort.

See also this article from the Financial Times

These matters merit prayer, not least because they will potentially affect a very large number of jobs in both Europe as well as being designed to “hobble” the Russian economy. Needless to say, such measures invite inevitable retribution from Moscow; retaliatory measures are expected to be announced quite possibly later this same day.

The stakes are high. France’s decision not to supply an already paid for helicopter assault ship to Russia was a courageous decision. Since the beginning of the summer, some 400 Russian sailors have been training in western France on operating the Vladivostok.

France, which is suffering from record-high unemployment and stagnant growth, risks losing much-needed receipts from the sale, as well as its credibility as a weapons exporter. But, make no mistake about it, this ship (and another one to come after it) would greatly enhance Russia’s strike capacity.

Whichever way you look at it, this is an important and strategic time to be praying for the extremely delicate situation the new leaders of the EU have inherited. May the Lord’s mercy be in the to-ing and the fro-ing.