Christians and the Russia - Ukraine War
Updated: Sep 30
The Russian invasion of Ukraine has western media screaming for more sanctions, more money and weapons for Ukraine, more confiscations of Russian property, and plans to wean Europe off Russian oil and gas. The Russian Orthodox church has been labeled the Harlot of Babylon by western religious leaders for its support of Putin. And the death toll continues to rise. Millions of Ukrainians are fleeing for safer ground, and western countries are opening their arms to these refugees. But as is the case in wartime, there is little reflection or objective analysis. Contrarian views are declared to be traitorous. The first casualty of war is the truth.
Russia's invasion of Ukraine is despicable and arguably a war crime. But despite what media talking heads are saying, this war can only be understood in terms of great power conflict: between the West, led by the USA and its allies, and the East, led by China, Russia and their allies. Since the end of WWII, American planners have envisioned a world dominated by their country and its military and economic power. In such a world, there is no room for competitors. China and Russia, and their allies, must therefore be tamed and contained. After the collapse of the USSR, Gorbachev made an agreement with the USA that NATO would not expand past East Germany. That agreement was violated and NATO expanded rapidly, putting troops and weapons, including missiles, on Russia's border. Russia had been trying for years to repair its relationship with the West, but oligarchs in the USA, especially on the Democrat side, were agitating for an enemy: and Russia was declared to be that enemy. Every Imperial power needs an enemy to divert the attention of the public to outside forces and to provide a rationale for increasing military expenditures.
So Russia watched and complained as NATO continued to expand to its border, placing advanced weapons systems within striking distance of Moscow. US experts on Russia warned that this policy would eventually result in major conflict, but the military planners and politicians ignored them. When NATO membership was offered to Ukraine, as a provocation, Russia took the bait and American leadership was gifted with the perfect rationale for expanding its military further and increasing the pressure on Russia and China. America is now running around the globe trying to force other countries to take a stand with it, but the reaction from some countries, like India, has been lukewarm. American global leadership is a declining prospect it seems. As some commentators have said, "America is fighting Russia to the last Ukrainian."
Then there is the jaw-dropping hypocrisy of western media and western political leadership. Where was the outrage when President George W. Bush lied the world into the Iraq war? Most were cheerleading the effort. The result was hundreds of thousands of deaths and injuries, a destroyed country, and an estimated $2 trillion wasted. After that abysmal failure of western media and political leadership to report the truth, why should we believe it now?
What should the Christian's view of this war be? Is violence ever justified? Jesus said to "turn the other cheek", "love your enemy", "put down the sword", "do to others as you would have them do to you", "do not return evil with evil", and "blessed are the peacemakers". According to Jesus, then, violence is never justified. We are called to be peacemakers, not warmongers. The fact that most churches will obey Caesar during wartime and go kill, does not mean Jesus was mistaken. It means most churches are hopelessly corrupt and in bed with Caesar. It is not just the Russian Orthodox Church that is the Harlot of Revelation 17, but all churches that have partnered corruptly with governmental power.
But some will protest, arguing that if we hadn't opposed Hitler, we would all be living under Nazi rule today. But this is not helpful. Who knows how WWII would have ended if the US didn't enter it? It is likely that the Nazis and the Communists could very well have wiped each other out. But more to the point, the German army was filled with Christians as was the Allied army. Why were Christians killing Christians in both armies, in disobedience to Jesus? If all Christians had taken our Lord's words seriously, there may have never been WWII or WWI for that matter.
Yet the images of innocent Ukrainians killed and maimed continue to pour from our media outlets. It is very tragic and very sad. The Ukrainians are caught in the middle of a great power struggle and the result will be the destruction of their country and loss of territory. America will not achieve what it wants in this war: the Russian ruble and its economy has mostly recovered. Russia, China, and their allies are creating financial systems that America cannot meddle with and impose sanctions on. The world is divided on US leadership and America's problems at home are nearly insurmountable. Climate change is now unstoppable, yet our political leadership is concerned with everything but this existential crisis. The future does not look bright for this world given it's incompetent leadership.
So what can Christians do? Pray for peace. Pray for an end to these conflicts. Pray for protection for the Ukrainian innocents caught up in the great power game. Pray for God's Kingdom to come soon, and establish a just rule over this earth. Give to refugee services. Volunteer to help those fleeing the war. Speak truth to power. Put pressure on our leaders to negotiate a peace and stop sending weapons, which will just prolong the conflict--a conflict that Ukraine cannot win. Vote for politicians that prefer diplomacy to war. Do everything you can to be a force for peace, for "Blessed are the peacemakers."