Displaying items by tag: Ukraine
Pastor Denis, a Russian with an Odessa-based YouTube channel, says, ‘I believe the situation in Ukraine will shake the false foundations of many people’s lives and they will turn to God, who is the Rock of our salvation and who is a strong tower.’ Dodging rockets, Pastor Denis and his congregation are in the streets telling people about Jesus.He says, ‘When we can, we keep witnessing to people, we keep evangelising, unless incoming missiles ruin our plans. We continue to hold church services unless curfews make us stream them.’ Not every Russian supports Putin’s imperialistic designs against neighbouring Ukraine, especially those living outside Russia who have access to western media sources. Pastor Denis believes that the malevolent war against neighbouring Ukraine will lead to revival.
Ukrainian military officials said on 7 May that they had sunk another Russian warship in the Black Sea. The ship was a craft designed to transport and deploy troops to the shore. The strike was executed with Turkish drones, which Ukraine has relied on during the war. Just weeks after the Russian flagship Moskva missile cruiser was hit by Ukraine’s missiles and sunk, this Russian warship was left burning in the Black Sea. A reliable naval source verified that a Ukrainian Neptune anti-ship missile struck the vessel, with a large number of Russian aircraft circling overhead. Russia’s fleet is shrinking. See also
Christian missionaries in Russia have been referred to as ‘volunteers’ since 2016 after a law was passed that limits religious proselytising. Ukraine has become a launching pad for missionaries to Russia, where there is little or no religious freedom. A Ukrainian missionary wrote recently, ‘Our church has formed a team to help with the different aspects of receiving refugees, among other related activities. On 1 March I went to a military installation in Chișinău, where refugee Indian medical students from Odessa were sheltering. Some students were thankful to see a pastor and pray with him. They have studied medicine in Odessa for six years, and had just two months to complete graduation when the war came and they had to leave. They want the war to end soon, and they can return to Ukraine to complete their studies.’
Russia has removed forces from areas near Kyiv and is focusing on eastern Ukraine. The battle for Ukraine's old industrial heartland known as Donbas is likely to decide the fate of the Russian invasion. Pray for Ukraine and its allies to prevent Russia annexing Donbas and adjacent areas and claiming the territory as Putin did with Crimea in 2014. Russia’s attacks on the south have triggered a humanitarian catastrophe at the siege of Mariupol. Pray for Ukraine’s ‘best-trained forces’, already there due to the eight-year war with Russian separatists, to hold on to the land. Much of Donetsk and key areas of Luhansk are still in Ukrainian hands The Institute for the Study of War (ISW) says if Ukraine holds on to Slovyansk, Russia's campaign to seize both regions ‘will likely fail’. We can ask God to enable this scenario.
When the Russians seized Berdyansk, four days into the war, Anya and her eleven foster-children were forced to stay in a bunker below their house for 42 days. ‘It was hard and dangerous, but every day we woke up and thanked God that we were still alive and still able to worship Him’. Anya said. They were rescued by Orphan's Promise. It was scary to leave. At the last checkpoint they were on a bus that came under fire when the Russians began firing on Ukrainian troops. Everyone on the bus fell to the floor, the children cried and shouted, but they all miraculously survived. Now the Russians have closed Berdyansk, not allowing anyone out or humanitarian aid in. The family expect to get visas for Switzerland to wait out the war.
Boris Johnson has said the British embassy in Kyiv will open its doors again, after its closure shortly before Russia's invasion. He also said it was sadly a ‘realistic possibility’ when asked if he agreed with intelligence that the Russian bombardment could continue to the end of next year, ending with Russian victory. He said, ‘Putin has a huge army with a very difficult political position because he has made a catastrophic blunder. His only option, really, is to continue to use his appalling, grinding approach driven by artillery, trying to grind the Ukrainians down. No matter what military superiority he may be able to bring to bear in the next few months, he will not be able to conquer the spirit of the Ukrainian people.’
As countries around the world take sides in Russia's war against Ukraine, Hungary is the only country in the region refusing to help Ukraine fight Russia. That means no military aid or weapons shipments across its borders despite personal pleas from President Zelenskyy. Hungary said, ‘This is not our war, so we want to and will stay out of it.’ Viktor Orban, Hungary’s president, is widely seen as Putin's European ally. He has sought neutrality in the war despite Hungary’s membership of NATO and the EU. He is threading a middle road between friendliness with Russia and belonging to these organisations because Russia supplies 90% of Hungary's raw energy needs. So he has blocked the EU from imposing sanctions on Russian energy imports - Europe's weapon to put pressure on Putin. ‘Cheap Russian oil is more important for Hungarian politicians than Ukrainian blood’, said the Czech Republic's defence minister.
Olena and Oleksandr tried to escape Mariupol, but ended up in a Russian refugee hub (more like a concentration camp) where they were interrogated. ‘You can't imagine how horrible the conditions were there. Elderly people slept in corridors without mattresses or blankets. There was only one toilet and one sink for thousands of people. Dysentery soon began to spread. There was no way to wash or clean. It smelt extremely awful. Soap and disinfectant ran out on the second day we were there. Soon toilet paper and sanitary pads ran out. We were fingerprinted, photographed, interrogated for hours, and had phone call history and contact numbers on devices checked for links with journalists or government and military officials.’ They said If someone appeared to be a 'Ukrainian Nazi', they were sent to Donetsk for further ‘interrogation’ (torture). When authorities tried to deport them to Russia, they risked escaping with private drivers to Ukraine.
The Russian Orthodox Church is echoing Putin to justify the war. Its stance is driving many Ukrainian priests and parishioners to reject its teaching and join the Ukrainian Orthodox Church. Father Nicolay Pluzhnik said, ‘When the war started, I waited to hear from Patriarch Kirill of Moscow, the “father” of our church.’ There was no reaction, and then Patriarch Kirill and most of Moscow’s priests gave blessings to the war. They failed to condemn killing innocent Ukrainians or call for a ceasefire. Instead, they held large, televised services in Moscow to bless Russian troops, with sermons proposing the Kremlin's war is a righteous war about the future of Christianity. Patriarch Kirill said, ‘What is happening today is much more important than politics. It’s about human salvation.’ Dr Rowan Williams said, ‘There are elements in the Russian Christian tradition that become toxic when they follow Christian nationalism. It’s a messianic approach to Russia’s fate.’
Much of the focus of the war in Ukraine has been about the battle on the ground - but the fight to dominate the skies is just as important. The BBC has interviewed a Ukrainian air defence officer about the battle for control of the skies. Captain Vasyl Kravchuk has a surprisingly ready smile for a man who has endured fifty days of war. They spoke to him via video link from his base at an undisclosed location. He knows the coming weeks will offer no respite. Russia may have received a bloody nose in its aborted attempts to take Kyiv, but with the Eastern region of the Donbas now firmly in Moscow's sights, the men and women of Dnipro's anti-aircraft missile brigade will continue to play a key role in the next phase of the war. Capt Kravchuk said, ‘Past wars have shown that whoever dominates the air wins the war’.