What are we to make of the situation in Ukraine?
The incursion by Russia into the Ukraine is still underway, and it remains to be seen where all this will end. Military operations are now happening, with even the capital Kyiv being targeted. The justification for all this by President Putin remains quite baseless (he claims Russia is simply responding to the evils of the Ukrainian “regime,” etc.).
And he had said anyone else intervening will face dire consequences that “you have never seen”. But so far no Western soldiers have come to the aid of this nation, and none likely ever will. The truth is, with most Western military brass more concerned about using the right pronouns, and not offending minority groups, their armies would be no match for Russia’s troops anyway.
So Ukraine is now on its own, and it has just declared that it is in a 30-day state of emergency. Many people are already heading away from the flash points, and it is possible that very soon we may find millions of Ukrainians seeking refuge in Poland.
While the West is perhaps the weakest it has been in a long time, Russia and China have recently formed a long-term security pact. Thus we have two super powers arrayed against an anaemic and spineless West. With senile fools like Biden in the White House, the move on Ukraine was inevitable.
And soon we will likely see a move on Taiwan by China. We also now have to deal with Iranian nuclear sabre-rattling. All this and more is being ramped up because of a useless, spineless and decadent West. No one watching the decline of the West over recent years would be surprised by this.
The Ukraine has had a rather checkered past, as have so many nations in that part of the world. It was part of various empires and powers, including the Austro-Hungarian and the Ottoman empires. It became a republic in 1917, but became a founding member of the Soviet Union in 1922. It regained its independence in 1991, after the dissolution of the Soviet Union.
It then declared itself to be a neutral state although it formed a partial military partnership with Russia. In 1994 it also established a partnership with NATO. In 2014 Russia invaded and eventually annexed the Crimean Peninsula from Ukraine. Things have been on shaky ground for some years now.
Why invade the Ukraine?
Aside from various historical claims Russia might have on the Ukraine, there are plenty of economic and strategic reasons why the nation is so very valuable. While I have not yet checked out all the details, the following meme circulating on the social media offers a large list of reasons why Ukraine is such a prize:
So why’s Russia after Ukraine?
For those who ask: “Why does Ukraine matter? “
This is why Ukraine matters.
Being the second largest country by area in Europe and has a population of over 40 million, Ukraine ranks:
1st in Europe in proven recoverable reserves of uranium ores
2nd place in Europe and 10th place in the world in terms of titanium ore reserves
2nd place in the world in terms of explored reserves of manganese ores (2.3 billion tons, or 12% of the world’s reserves)
2nd largest iron ore reserves in the world (30 billion tons)
2nd place in Europe in terms of mercury ore reserves
3rd place in Europe (13th place in the world) in shale gas reserves (22 trillion cubic meters)
4th in the world by the total value of natural resources
7th place in the world in coal reserves (33.9 billion tons)
Ukraine is an important agricultural country:
1st in Europe in terms of arable land area
3rd place in the world by the area of black soil (25% of world’s volume)
1st place in the world in exports of sunflower and sunflower oil
2nd place in the world in barley production and 4th place in barley exports
3rd largest producer and 4th largest exporter of corn in the world
4th largest producer of potatoes in the world
5th largest rye producer in the world
5th place in the world in bee production (75,000 tons)
8th place in the world in wheat exports
9th place in the world in the production of chicken eggs
16th place in the world in cheese exports
Ukraine can meet the food needs of 600 million people.
Ukraine is an important industrialized country:
1st in Europe in ammonia production
Europe’s 2nd’s and the world’s 4th largest natural gas pipeline system
3rd largest in Europe and 8th largest in the world in terms of installed capacity of nuclear power plants
3rd place in Europe and 11th in the world in terms of rail network length (21,700 km)
3rd place in the world (after the U.S. and France) in production of locators and locating equipment
3rd largest iron exporter in the world
4th largest exporter of turbines for nuclear power plants in the world
4th world’s largest manufacturer of rocket launchers
4th place in the world in clay exports
4th place in the world in titanium exports
8th place in the world in exports of ores and concentrates
9th place in the world in exports of defence industry products
10th largest steel producer in the world (32.4 million tons)
Ukraine matters. That is why its independence is important to the rest of the world. These resources are why Russia is chomping at the bits to take it.
Most Ukrainians are Christians (around 82%), and of those, most are Eastern Orthodox. Indeed, except for Russia, it has the world’s largest Eastern Orthodox population. So it is quite a religious nation, and photos of Christians on their knees praying in the snow in Kyiv recently made news around the world.
On a personal note, back in 1980 I and a bus-load full of young people were in the Ukraine. It was a Youth With A Mission outreach. And since we knew little of the language, we spent a lot of time in prayer and worship there. We wondered at the time what impact we might have.
But as noted above, following the 1989 fall of the Berlin Wall, Ukraine regained independence in 1991. Did our prayers and spiritual warfare play a small part in all this? I am sure they did, at least to some extent. My good friend Ed, who was with me on that bus trip, recently said this:
Something that isn’t so well known and is related … in 1982 the mission Open Doors called for 7 years of prayer for the Soviet Union. In those 7 years all the Soviet old guard members of the Politburo died. 1989 was the 7th year – the year the Wall fell! Of course many had been praying for many years, but it was, I think, a Kairos moment. I was at a large YWAM prayer meeting in August-September 1989 and we prayed for the Iron Curtain to come down. It was only days later that everything began!
By way of background, one new article about the religious situation found there said this:
Threatened by an uprising of his treacherous generals, the Christian Emperor Basil II, based in the glorious city of Byzantium, reached out to his enemies, the pagans over in the land of the Rus. Basil II was a clever deal maker. If Vladimir of the Rus would help him put down the revolt, he would give him the hand of his sister in marriage. This was a status changer for Vladimir: the marriage of a pagan to an imperial princess was unprecedented. But first Vladimir would have to convert to Christianity.
Returning to Kyev in triumph, Vladimir proceeded to summon the whole city to the banks of the river Dnieper for a mass baptism. The year is 988. This is the founding, iconic act of Russian Orthodox Christianity. It was from here that Christianity would spread out and merge with the Russian love of the motherland, to create a powerful brew of nationalism and spirituality. In the mythology of 988, it was as if the whole of the Russian people had been baptised. Vladimir was declared a saint. When the Byzantine empire fell, the Russians saw themselves as its natural successor. They were a “third Rome”.
Soviet Communism tried to crush all this — but failed. And in the post-Soviet period, thousands of churches have been built and re-built. Though the West thinks of Christianity as something enfeebled and declining, in the East it is thriving. Back in 2019, Patriarch Kirill, the head of the Russian Orthodox Church, boasted that they were building three churches a day. Last year, they opened a Cathedral to the Armed Forces an hour outside Moscow. Religious imagery merges with military glorification. War medals are set in stained glass, reminding visitors of Russian martyrdom. In a large mosaic, more recent victories — including 2014’s “the return of Crimea” — are celebrated. “Blessed are the peacemakers” this is not.
At the heart of this post-Soviet revival of Christianity is another Vladimir. Vladimir Putin. Many people don’t appreciate the extent to which the invasion of Ukraine is a spiritual quest for him. The Baptism of Rus is the founding event of the formation of the Russian religious psyche, the Russian Orthodox church traces its origins back here. That’s why Putin is not so much interested in a few Russian-leaning districts to the east of Ukraine. His goal, terrifyingly, is Kyev itself. https://unherd.com/2022/02/putins-spiritual-destiny/
The way ahead
Politically, aside from any military responses, options for the West are quite limited. Sadly, all this is looking like 1938 revisited. We have useless leaders who keep talking about “peace in our time” who are clueless about political realities. Appeasement has never worked, and we have waited too long to make a proper response now. Action should have been taken many months ago.
So what responses we now take may not matter much. They mainly would involve proper, strong sanctions – not the Micky Mouse ones we see being tossed around by so many governments so far. This would include refusing to buy any of their gas and oil and other products.
But the real solution may well be for God’s people to pray, and pray hard. This is as much a spiritual battle as a political or geo-political one. Please pray for Ukraine, for its people, and for the situation the nation now finds itself in.