Displaying items by tag: Ukraine
Young men brought clubs and brass knuckles to Pechersk Monastery in Kiev, intent on disrupting worship. Police spread-eagled them against a wall depicting centuries-old frescoes of saints, then hauled them away. Meanwhile at a small church in the centre of Kiev, a dozen men organised round-the-clock guard duty against nationalist radicals making their third attempt in a year to seize their place of worship. These incidents underline Ukraine’s potent, possibly explosive mix of politics, religious faith, and national identity that is emerging in the creation of an Orthodox church of its own. There are deep concerns about what will happen to the 12,000 churches and their property in the church split. The war between Ukrainian forces and Russia-backed separatists, which has killed 10,000+ people, has increased hostility towards the Moscow Patriarchate churches. With such passions on both sides, it is feared that more violence between the two sides lies ahead.
Ukraine will not allow Russian men aged 16-60 into the country following the imposition of martial law, Kiev says. An exception would be made for "humanitarian cases" such as those travelling to funerals. Russia says it is not planning retaliatory measures.
Martial law has been imposed in 10 Ukrainian regions until 26 December 2018.
The move came as Ukraine's president expressed fears of a Russian invasion after Russian forces seized three Ukrainian boats and 24 sailors.
Ukraine said Sunday's incident in the Black Sea was a flagrant violation of international law, while Russia says the vessels violated its territorial waters.
It is the most dangerous clash at sea off Crimea since Russia annexed the peninsula from Ukraine in March 2014.
What did Ukraine say?
The restrictions were announced after President Petro Poroshenko met the country's top security officials, including border guard chiefs, in Kiev.
The president tweeted (in Ukrainian) that the ban was designed to prevent the formation of "private armies" in Ukraine.
He was referring to Russian-backed separatists who formed units in April 2014 to fight Ukrainian government forces in eastern Ukraine.
Mr Poroshenko also said registration criteria would be tightened for Russian citizens in the regions under martial law.
On Tuesday, he warned there was a threat of "full-scale war" with Russia.
"The number of [Russian] tanks at bases located along our border has grown three times," the president said.
Five of the 10 regions border Russia while two are adjacent to Moldova's breakaway Trans-Dniester region, where Russian troops are stationed. The other three regions border the Black Sea or Sea of Azov close to Crimea. (See article image courtesy of BBC)
The BBC's Jonah Fisher in Kiev says the ban could have a devastating impact on cross-border travel as the holiday period approaches. Many Russians have relatives living in Ukraine.
Reacting to the Ukrainian ban, Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said Moscow was not planning "mirror" measures as this "could result in full madness".
Russia earlier said the 30-day martial law in Ukraine had been declared in order to potentially suspend presidential elections set for 31 March.
It said President Poroshenko - whose approval ratings have plummeted - would then be the main beneficiary.
Mr Poroshenko denies the claim, saying the polls will be held as scheduled.
That the situation does not escalate.
That this long running situation can be diplomatically resolved.
That people will be able to travel freely across the border again, especially looking forward to Christmas.
For peace in the region.
The Baptist Union is asking churches everywhere to pray for Ukraine, where martial law was imposed following a clash with Russia on 25 November in the Kerch Strait (a body of water separating the Black and Azov Seas). Ukraine’s navy reported three vessels being seized and sailors injured during the attack. The Ukraine parliament and the UN Security Council agreed to impose martial law, which will affect daily life drastically. At the time of writing President Poroshenko is urging NATO to send ships to the Sea of Azov, ‘to assist Ukraine and provide security’. Coincidentally, the UK defence secretary committed troops and the deployment of a Royal Navy ship to the Ukraine two days before this incident. He said it was a direct response to Russian aggression, adding, ‘As long as Ukraine faces Russian hostilities, it will find a steadfast partner in the UK’. See
Following the death of activist Kateryna Handziuk on Sunday, Ukraine’s leaders face mounting demands to protect its civil society and end the impunity of powerful criminals. In August someone poured sulphuric acid over Ms Handziuk (33) outside her home in the southern city of Kherson, where she was an adviser to the mayor and campaigned against police and political corruption. From her hospital bed in Kiev, she had called for urgent action over the assaults on more than forty Ukrainian activists in the past year, and expressed doubts about whether five men arrested for the acid attack were actually responsible. Out of more than 140 attacks on journalists since the start of 2017, only 14 have gone to court; police and officials seem unable or unwilling to defend those who expose the lucrative links between politics, business, and crime in the country. The US ambassador, Marie Yovanovitch, urged Ukraine to ‘bring the perpetrators to justice, including those who ordered the attack’.
The 2018 annual Munich Security Report cited growing pressure on nuclear disarmament treaties and ongoing security concerns in eastern and central Europe as a cause for concern, and most worryingly the erosion of arms control agreements. ‘Deployment of additional weapons and tensions over military exercises has increased the risk of an inadvertent armed clash’, the report warns. ‘In this dire state of affairs, miscalculations and misunderstandings could lead to unintended military clashes. The Ukraine conflict was a stumbling block to de-escalation of tensions between Russia and the West.’ America’s decision to provide lethal arms to Ukraine would cement the current stalemate as countries in eastern Europe struggle in an environment of contested security, with the EU and NATO on one side and Russia on the other, at a time when the EU's Eastern partnership policy has ‘lost its steam’.
The streets of Kiev were filled with songs of praise and thanksgiving from 500,000 evangelical Ukrainian Christians who had gathered to celebrate the 500th anniversary of the Reformation. People travelled from all four provinces to celebrate and thank God for the freedom to worship, to preach the Gospel in their country, and to celebrate His faithfulness to His Church. The gathering took place after Ukrainian president Petro Poroshenko signed an order recognising the anniversary of the Reformation.
The UN has accused Russia of committing grave human rights violations in Crimea. There is a need for accountability. Russia annexed the peninsula from Ukraine in 2014, after that country's leader was overthrown. The UN report has documented random arrests, detentions, disappearances, torture, and at least one execution. There have been ‘intrusive law enforcement raids of private properties’, and the human rights situation has ‘significantly deteriorated’, with hundreds of prisoners illegally transferred from Crimea to Russian jails. Civil servants have been forced to renounce their Ukrainian citizenship or face losing their jobs, and Moscow has replaced Ukrainian laws with Russian ones. Education in Ukrainian has all but disappeared from Crimean schools. There was no immediate response from Russia to the report's accusations.
Russia threatens power grids with cyber weapon. The Washington Post reports hackers allied with the Russian government have devised a cyber-weapon that has the potential to be the most disruptive yet against electric systems that have the potential to disrupt all American lives. The malware, which researchers have dubbed CrashOverride, is known to have disrupted only one energy system (Ukraine). In that instance, the hackers shut down one-fifth of the power generated in Kiev. Once modified the malware could be deployed against U.S. electric transmission and distribution systems to a devastating effect. A cyber-security firm says the malware “is the culmination of over a decade of theory and attack scenarios.” “It’s a game changer.” …Unfortunately the U.S. is slow addressing the threat and as a result is very vulnerable.
Russia stages 100,000 troops on NATO’s border. Defense One reports Russia and Belarus are preparing for a military exercise on NATO’s flank. Russia’s every-four-year joint exercise with Belarus, Zapad (“West”) 2017, simulates a full-scale conflict with the West. Lithuania’s defense minister said “it’s not comfortable at all when we expect to have 100,000 troops around our borders.” It is noteworthy the scheduled exercise will be the first since Russia annexed Crimea in 2014. Defense One reports several Baltic officials believe Russia may leave troops in Belarus after the exercise, something similar seen in past operations such as the Republic of Georgia, Crimea and Eastern Ukraine.
Ukraine conflict escalates. Radio Free Europe reports the U.N. announced hostilities have been escalating in eastern Ukraine in recent months because parties to the armed conflict have “repeatedly failed to implement cease-fire agreements.” The U.N. announcement said cease-fire violations on both Ukrainian armed forces and Russia-backed separatists in eastern Ukraine have allowed “hostilities to escalate and claim more live as the conflict moved into its fourth year.” The conflict that started in mid-April 2014 has claimed 10,090 lives – including 2,777 civilians. Note: Russia fuels the conflict and will never back-down because Ukraine is the psychological birthplace of the Russian people.
Robert Lee Maginnis
Pray that Russia will change its attitude and pull back from its aggressive actions on the border with NATO and in eastern Ukraine. Pray that a better relationship may develop with the USA and between presidents Vladimir Putin and Donald Trump.
The European Union formally extended its economic sanctions on Russia on Wednesday, a widely-expected step that keeps restrictions on business with Russian energy, defence and financial sectors until 31 January 2018. The sanctions were imposed in July 2014 following Russia's annexation of Ukraine's Black Sea peninsula and Moscow's direct support for separatists in eastern Ukraine. Moscow denies direct involvement in the conflict, despite NATO's assertions that its troops are supporting the rebels. EU leaders agreed to the extension at their summit in Brussels last week, after France and Germany cited no progress in efforts to negotiate an end to the conflict in eastern Ukraine that has killed more than 10,000 people since April 2014. Under the sanctions that were imposed in tandem with the United States, European companies are banned from doing business with or investing in Russia's defence and energy industries, while financial ties are severely limited. European companies cannot borrow or lend money to Russia's five main state-owned banks for more than 30 days, limiting Moscow's avenues for raising funds. Any lifting of sanctions on Russia is tied to the implementation of the Minsk peace deal for Ukraine which was negotiated by the leaders of France, Germany, Ukraine and Russia in 2015.
The Russian media is repeatedly criticised for the use of misleading images, false narratives, misrepresentation, suppression and fabricated news stories when it comes to Ukraine. A regular claim has been that the Ukrainian army is committing ‘genocide’ against Russian-speakers who state that they strongly desire Russia to ‘protect’ them against Kiev. The media battle between the two countries has not gone away: neither has spasmodic cross-border fighting, regardless of ‘ceasefires’. On 15 May, a decree banned access to the country's most popular social networking sites and other Russian-based web businesses. This was described as a ‘national security measure’, part of economic sanctions against Russia, which annexed Crimea from Ukraine in 2014 and has sent weapons, equipment, and troops to support and fuel the separatist side in the war in eastern Ukraine.