From Heero Hacquebord in L’viv (pastor and MTW missionary): What are our weapons? There are different kinds of weapons. We have the opportunity to send all our enemies to hellfire, but this is not our task. We listen to the words of the Creator in our hearts and obey them. These words give us a sacred goal. The goal is to stop the supreme lord of hell, no matter what name he uses – Satan, Lucifer or the Devil. Because his goal is death. Our goal is life.”
This is how Dmitry Medvedev, ex-president of the Russian Federation, describes his country’s unprovoked war of raping, pillaging, forced evacuations, bombing residential buildings and land grabbing in Ukraine. While Russia acts like a modern incarnation of the 12th century Mongolian horde, it cloaks itself with Christian language and symbols. Its targeted, specialized propaganda has affected even Christians in the West! Ukraine desperately needs military, humanitarian and financial help from Europe, the U.S. and other countries. While the aid it has received so far has allowed it to survive and even make significant gains against the Russian military, it cannot continue to fight – and win – without an increase in aid! Yet many Christians have doubts about supporting Ukraine in its desperate fight for survival. We must, therefore, begin by briefly addressing some of Russia’s propaganda that is knowingly or unknowingly parroted by some western Christians, politicians and journalists (such as Fox’s Tucker Carlson). (The latter is often triumphantly quoted on Russian state television for representing “thoughtful” Americans.)
Russian propaganda points – and brief answers
- CLAIM: The war is the necessary result of NATO expansion in Eastern Europe, threatening Russia’s existence.
- REALITY: NATO has never threatened Russian statehood. Russia could have applied for NATO membership in the 1990’s or 2000’s, but chose not to. Putin himself never complained about NATO expansion. This is a much more recent theme in his rhetoric. (See this panel discussionwith Lord George Robertson giving details (see at 43:00-45:00 minutes).) Putin uses NATO as a foil to shift attention from corruption and a host of other domestic problems.
- CLAIM: Ukraine is corrupt and undemocratic, persecuting political opponents.
- REALITY: Ukraine is an imperfect democracy. It has grown out of the very corrupt ashes of the Soviet Union. Yes, Ukraine must develop and purify its legal system and do more to fight corruption, but it is Russia’s influence that has held it back from positive western influence in these areas! Ukraine does have a free press that openly criticizes its rulers and it has a plethora of political parties (unlike the U.S.). Many of those parties have been Russian state puppets, though, which is why they were outlawed at the beginning of the war. Indeed, it is mostly members of the main pro-Russian opposition party who are now welcoming Russian invaders with open arms! Would the U.S. have tolerated Japanese or German- funded political parties during WWII?
- CLAIM: Russia is fighting for moral purity against an immoral Ukraine and West (see Medvedev’s quote above).
- REALITY: Russia has a thin veneer of “Christianity”, created by the KGB-infiltrated Russian Orthodox Church. Yet Russia oppresses and persecutes Protestants. It is the country with the highest official abortion rate in the world. Corruption, political persecution, alcoholism and domestic abuse are out of control. While there certainly is a plethora of evil and immorality in the West, it is not the EU that is torturing and murdering people in Ukraine….
- CLAIM: The U.S. has helped Ukraine to develop chemical weapons. This was used as one of the pretexts for the Russian full-scale invasion. Russia’s ambassador to the U.N recently even claimed that Ukraine has developed disease-infected “combat mosquitoes!”
- REALITY: See this article explaining that the U.S. has never had labs in Ukraine for developing chemical weapons.
- CLAIM: Nobody should send weapons to a corrupt Ukraine. The weapons will end up on the black market.
- REALITY: Has there ever been a war that did not lead to some weapons showing up on the black market? Yet there is no evidence that this has happened yet with weapons earmarked for Ukraine. In fact, it is hugely important for Ukraine that this will not happen, since it would directly affect the aid it is receiving in its fight to survive! The U.S. is keeping close tabs on what goes where.
- CLAIM: The U.S. has enough problems of its own. It does not need to get involved in Ukraine.
- REALITY: This is a false, either/ or dichotomy. “This is like saying that a man must choose between being a committed husband, a loving dad, or a hard worker. Sometimes in life, one must do more than one important task at a time.” (See this helpful article entitled “Ten Myths about U.S. Aid for Ukraine”)
- CLAIM: Diplomacy – not weapons – are the only way to end this war.
- REALITY: The only effective way to end this war is for Russia to leave Ukraine. Sitting down for negotiations with Russia before it leaves Ukraine is letting it get away with murder – literally. Such negotiations would embolden Russia to bilaterally seize territory again in the future in Ukraine and elsewhere. Case in point – the partial invasion of Ukraine in 2014, followed by this year’s larger invasion. Additionally, one must remember that Putin is a thug, not a diplomat. Thugs respect and respond to force.
- CLAIM: Everybody knows that historically Crimea really belongs to Russia!
- REALITY: Imagine what would happen if every part of Europe that once belonged to someone else were taken back by force! That’s not the kind of world we want to live in. Do we really want to support that way of thinking? Yes, Crimea was ruled by Russia for 171 years before, during the Soviet Union, it was given to Ukraine in 1954 (68 years ago). But few people know that Crimea’s centuries-old population, the Crimean Tatars, were brutally deported by Stalin to central Russia, resulting in the abandonment of 80,000 households and tens of thousands of deaths! Overnight ethnic Russians were hastily moved into Tatar homes, sometimes literally finishing the previous occupants’ meals! But Crimean Tatars eventually were allowed to return to live in a peaceful Ukraine that has respected their heritage and rights. Since Russia’s Crimean annexation of 2014, however, Crimean Tatars have again been brutally persecuted. Shouldn’t they have a say in who owns Crimea?
- CLAIM: The U.S. and EU are fighting a proxy war in Ukraine to destroy Russia.
- REALITY: If only the U.S. and the EU were that committed to this war! This war was started by Russia and would have been over already if the U.S. and EU were more committed to helping Ukraine before and after it began.
- CLAIM: If the West keeps arming Ukraine then Putin – backed into a corner – will use nuclear weapons.
- REALITY: Putin’s ultimate aim is to survive by staying in power. He will not use nuclear weapons if it is clear that doing so will cause his demise. Giving in to his demands, however, will embolden him to do whatever is necessary for him to accomplish his goals – including using tactical nuclear weapons. Experts disagree on how likely it is for him to use a limited nuclear option. But those who understand him best argue that he must be resisted at all cost.
- CLAIM: Putin is crazy.
- REALITY: He is acting rationally according to his own principles, goals and presuppositions. Believing that he is crazy makes the West afraid of opposing him, since he has that nuclear button. That’s exactly what he wants – for people not to oppose him out of fear.
What is the point?
Ukraine needs all the military, humanitarian and financial aid it can get! (We’ll get to prayer below!) It is because of this aid that Ukraine still exists today. Please do keep this in mind as you go out to vote this coming Tuesday. Write your congressman and senators to increase their support for Ukraine! I do not like to wade into politics, which is not my field. But for people in Ukraine this is not politics. It is life and death. The more Ukrainian territory Russia controls the more death, destruction and religious persecution they sow. Weapons from the West help immensely to stop Russian soldiers from murdering, abusing, torturing, raping and pillaging more Ukrainian children, women, men, elderly people. God calls us to protect life. Ukraine may not be at your doorstep, but you do have the power to help.
Total aid to Ukraine by country as a percentage of GDP (statista.com) Help from the U.S. is at 0.25% of GDP