Category : Ukraine

(Economist) Russia’s invasion of Ukraine is running out of steam, again

Eighty years ago the second Battle of Kharkov was raging in what was then the western Soviet Union. The Red Army had heroically driven the Nazi Wehrmacht back from the gates of Moscow. It gathered in a bulge west of Izyum, a town to the south of Kharkov, as Ukraine’s second city was then known. The subsequent Soviet offensive, launched on May 12th, was a disaster. Soviet armies were driven back and encircled. Over 170,000 Soviet troops were killed. Nikita Khrushchev later focused on the battle when denouncing his predecessor as Soviet leader, Stalin. “This is Stalin’s military ‘genius’,” he sneered, citing the crude tactics of frontal assault. “This is what it cost us.”

The Russian army is once again gathered around Izyum. And once more it is on the retreat from Kharkiv, as the city is now called, after another underwhelming campaign. It has been a month since Russia, having abandoned its assault on Kyiv, launched a fresh offensive in the eastern Donbas region. The idea was to encircle Ukrainian troops in a large salient stretching from Izyum in the north to the city of Donetsk in the south, in part by driving south from Izyum.

There have been minor successes. Russia has taken almost all of Luhansk province—it held only the southern part before the war—bar a salient around the well-defended city of Severodonetsk. It has also pushed south of Izyum, taking villages towards Barvinkove, an important rail junction, and the industrial cities of Slovyansk and Kramatorsk. Yet progress has been achingly slow—one or two kilometres a day—and casualties heavy. The war is now dominated by grinding artillery duels, rather than swift mechanised offensives. Much of Donetsk province is still in Ukrainian hands.

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Posted in Foreign Relations, Military / Armed Forces, Politics in General, Russia, Ukraine

(Economist) The war in Ukraine is spurring transatlantic co-operation in technology

A command centre to scan the digital realm for global disinformation campaigns. Standardised plugs for electric cars that will work both in America and in the European Union (eu) and so lower the cost of building the infrastructure needed to decarbonise. A transatlantic team to scout for attempts by China and others to manipulate global technical standards in their favour. These sorts of initiatives sound like common sense, but they are difficult in a world where even allies have competing regulators, vying for technological dominion. Happily, a transatlantic diplomatic undertaking that most people have never heard of is trying to change all that.

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The group in question, called the “Trade and Technology Council” (ttc), will convene in Saclay, a suburb of Paris, on May 15th and 16th. A constellation of grand officials from either side of the Atlantic—including America’s secretary of state, commerce secretary and top trade negotiator, and the eu’s commissioners for trade and competition—will be meeting for the second time. Whereas their first meeting in September in Pittsburgh was mainly meant for participants to get to know each other, the gathering in France will assess progress on their work so far and set goals for the next two years.

It is a momentous task. The ttc is the West’s response to efforts by China and others (notably Russia after its invasion of Ukraine) to build an autocratic digital world and bring the physical supply-chains that underpin it under their control. “The big question is whether democratic governments can develop a meaningful alternative,” explains Marietje Schaake of the Cyber Policy Centre at Stanford University. If America and the eu resolve their differences in tech, other countries are bound to follow their lead: the pair account for 55% of the global market for information technology, whose value is expected to reach a staggering $4.4trn this year, according to Gartner, a consultancy.

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Posted in Foreign Relations, Globalization, Russia, Science & Technology, Ukraine

(Washington Post front page) Oil Sales Remain Russia’s Lifeline

Despite the European Union’s drastic measures to wind down imports of Russian oil, Moscow still has plenty of buyers — and at prices steep enough to keep government revenue high and its coffers flush.

Before the war with Ukraine, Russia sold about half of its 7.85 million barrels a day of crude and refined oil to Europe. But with the war and the E.U.’s vow to abruptly end its reliance on Russian oil and gas, the Kremlin has been benefiting from high world prices while looking for new customers and reorienting its export strategy toward Asia.

The windfall shows how hard it is to punish a major oil and gas power such as Russia when so much of the world — especially developing countries — depends on fossil fuels.

Even with “severe oil production cuts” expected this year, Russia’s tax revenue “will increase significantly to more than $180 billion due to the spike in oil prices,” according to Rystad Energy, an independent research firm advising investors. The figure is 45 percent higher than in 2021.

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Posted in * Economics, Politics, Economy, Energy, Natural Resources, Foreign Relations, Military / Armed Forces, Politics in General, Russia, Ukraine

(Economist) Why weapons crucial to the war in Ukraine are in short supply

Of all the assistance America has provided to Ukraine, the gift of 5,500 or so Javelins has been perhaps the most welcome. Armed with these light anti-tank missiles, Ukrainian forces managed to stall, and eventually reverse, the Russian advance on their capital, Kyiv. Little wonder, then, that the Javelin has acquired exalted status among Ukrainians, celebrated in music and paintings (an image of the Virgin Mary holding a Javelin has gone viral).

The Javelin features a fearsome combination of power and precision. It is a “fire-and-forget” weapon, allowing soldiers to take cover quickly after firing. It can strike targets more than 3km away and hit the top of the tank—its most vulnerable part.

In all, America and its allies have provided more than 60,000 anti-tank weapons to Ukraine. These include not just the Javelin but also the Panzerfaust from Germany and Next-generation Light Anti-tank Weapons (NLAWs) from Britain and Sweden. All have helped (along with other types of weapons). More than 3,000 Russian tanks and other armoured vehicles in Ukraine have been destroyed, damaged, abandoned or captured, according to Oryx, an open-source intelligence blog. With Russian forces narrowing their focus on Donbas, however, still more weapons are needed. More than 10,000 Russian armoured vehicles remain in operation (with thousands more in storage), according to Mark Cancian of the Centre for Strategic and International Studies. President Joe Biden has asked Congress for a whopping $20bn more in military aid. But assistance in the form of Javelins and other anti-tank systems could soon dry up.

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Posted in Globalization, Military / Armed Forces, Russia, Science & Technology, Ukraine

(Economist 1843 Magazine) Elena Kostyuchenko–I lost my job for telling the truth about Ukraine

I meant to stay for two days, but on the third day we couldn’t get out because there was active combat on the road we’d been planning to take. The next day, we tried getting out on a different road. We went through two checkpoints but at the third one they told us that if they let us through, troops at the next checkpoint would gun us down. They said there were orders to shoot at all oncoming cars. We turned around and tried going through a neighbouring village instead, but locals told us that there were landmines up ahead. We tried yet another route. At a certain point, we were forced to go around a checkpoint because soldiers refused to let us through. We thought they might shoot at us from behind, but they didn’t.

From Kherson, I headed to Mariupol. As I was travelling, I suddenly started getting texts from colleagues from other publications with messages like, “We feel for you, but hang in there. Everything’s going to be ok, don’t be scared.” That’s how I found out Novaya Gazeta was stopping publication, at least until the war was over.

I was deeply shaken. That might sound strange, considering everything that had happened over the years. Six journalists had been killed, four of them during my tenure. Our deputy editor had been abducted and severed sheep heads left in front of our offices. There were constant attacks on our journalists, and we prevented many more by getting people out of the country or hiding them. The government was always trying to shut us down or have us declared foreign agents. We had survived it all. I thought that even though they’d shut down everyone else, we would prevail.

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Posted in Ethics / Moral Theology, Media, Russia, Ukraine

(Washington Post) Looming ground battle is crucial phase in Ukraine, U.S. officials say

U.S. military officials assess that a crucial, and perhaps decisive, phase of the Ukraine war is shaping up in the eastern part of the country, where Russian troops may surround Ukrainian forces in hopes of pummeling them in an epic, long-distance ground battle reminiscent of the last century.

New U.S. shipments of heavy artillery and counter-artillery radar, tactical drones, armored vehicles and other equipment are being rushed to Ukraine before tens of thousands of troops, amounting to up to half of the Ukrainian army, are caught in what is known as a “double envelopment” maneuver that would bring them under simultaneous attack from two sides.

The Ukrainians are located in a north-south crescent between deep Russian lines in the southeastern Donbas region, and a potential pincer movement to their west.

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Posted in Ethics / Moral Theology, Europe, Foreign Relations, Military / Armed Forces, Politics in General, Russia, Ukraine

(FT) Putin abandons hopes of Ukraine deal and shifts to land-grab strategy

Vladimir Putin has lost interest in diplomatic efforts to end his war with Ukraine and instead appears set on seizing as much Ukrainian territory as possible, according to three people briefed on conversations with the Russian president.

Putin, who was seriously considering a peace deal with Ukraine after Russia suffered battlefield setbacks last month, has told people involved in trying to end the conflict that he sees no prospects for a settlement.

“Putin sincerely believes in the nonsense he hears on [Russian] television and he wants to win big,” said a person briefed on the talks.

Though Moscow and Kyiv agreed their first draft communique at a meeting in Istanbul in late March, talks stalled after Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky accused Russia of committing war crimes against civilians in cities such as Bucha and Mariupol.

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Posted in Foreign Relations, Military / Armed Forces, Politics in General, Russia, Ukraine

(Washington Post) Commander hints at Russian ambitions beyond Ukraine

A Russian commander said Friday that Moscow wants to take “full control” of eastern and southern Ukraine, in part so it could have a path to neighboring Moldova — raising fears that the nearly two-month war could spill outside of Ukrainian borders.

The comments from Rustam Minnekayev, deputy commander of Russia’s Central Military District, seemed to hint that the Kremlin — which has been stymied in its bid to take over the Ukrainian capital — still wants to conquer wide swaths of its neighbor’s land, and potentially threaten the nations that lie beyond. They drew swift condemnation from Moldova, where residents have worried since the beginning of the war they could be next in the Kremlin’s crosshairs.

Minnekayev said capturing Ukraine’s east and south would create a “land corridor” to the Crimean Peninsula — which the Kremlin annexed in 2014 — and give Moscow influence over “vital objects of the Ukrainian economy,” according to the Russia state media outlet Tass. It would also provide “another way out to Transnistria,” Minnekayev said, referring to a thin strip of land that runs along Moldova’s border with Ukraine that functions as a separate nation, though it is not recognized as such, even by Russia.

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Posted in Ethics / Moral Theology, Foreign Relations, Military / Armed Forces, Politics in General, Russia, Ukraine

(Church Times) Conflict likely to get worse, say Ukrainian church leaders

Churches in Ukraine have advised citizens to be ready for an intensification of Russia’s invasion, as representatives of the Council of Europe condemned the destruction of religious sites, and pressure continued for Russian Orthodox leaders to call for a ceasefire in the two-month war.

“The war that Russia has imposed on us and on the whole world did not begin with missiles and bombs — it began with deception, untruth, and lies,” the head of Ukraine’s independent Orthodox Church, Metropolitan Epiphany (Dumenko), said in a Sunday homily.

“The Lord is now showing us how we must resist with the testimony of truth. Evil is evil, not just an alternative viewpoint, and war is war, not just some conflict. Rapists, looters, and murderers are criminals, and what they are perpetrating is a genocide of the Ukrainian people.”

Metropolitan Epiphany was speaking as evidence emerged that Russian forces had launched a new offensive along a 300-mile front line in the eastern Donbas region of Ukraine. Moscow confirmed on Monday that its shells and missiles had struck more than 1000 targets.

The Metropolitan said that Ukrainians knew from experience that Russia had long concealed “evil plans to restore the tyranny of a rotten, overthrown empire”, and that the divine commandment to love neighbours did not mean “loving the evil they do”.

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Posted in Ethics / Moral Theology, Foreign Relations, Military / Armed Forces, Parish Ministry, Politics in General, Russia, Ukraine, Violence

(Atlantic) Eliot A. Cohen–This Is the War’s Decisive Moment:The United States and its allies can tip the balance between a costly success and a calamity.

The relatively brief but bloody war in Ukraine is entering its fourth phase. In the first, Russia tried to depose Volodymyr Zelensky’s government and sweep the country into its embrace in a three-day campaign; in the second, it attempted to conquer Ukraine—or at least its eastern half, including the capital, Kyiv—with armored assaults; in the third, defeated in the north, Russia withdrew its battered forces, massing instead in the southeastern and southern areas for the conquest of those parts of Ukraine. Now the fourth, and possibly decisive, phase is about to begin.

For those of us born after World War II, this is the most consequential war of our lifetime. Upon its outcome rests the future of European stability and prosperity. If Ukraine succeeds in preserving its freedom and territorial integrity, a diminished Russia will be contained; if it fails, the chances of war between NATO and Russia go up, as does the prospect of Russian intervention in other areas on its western and southern peripheries. A Russian win would encourage a China coolly observing and assessing Western mettle and military capacity; a Russian defeat would induce a salutary caution in Beijing. Russia’s sheer brutality and utterly unwarranted aggression, compounded by lies at once sinister and ludicrous, have endangered what remains of the global order and the norms of interstate conduct. If such behavior leads to humiliation on the battlefield and economic chaos at home, those norms may be rebuilt to some degree; if Vladimir Putin’s government gets away with it, restoring them will take a generation or longer….

Upon what the United States and its allies do in the next few weeks hangs more than the American people realize. The evidence suggests that Russia’s armies can, if met by a well-equipped Ukrainian force, be thoroughly wrecked and defeated. While Russia itself will likely remain a paranoid and isolated dictatorship after this war, it can be defanged, even as its own folly reduces it to the ranks of a third-rate power. But war is war, and the future is always uncertain. All that is clear right now is that a failure to adequately support Ukraine will have terrible consequences, and not just for that heroic and suffering nation.

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Posted in America/U.S.A., England / UK, Europe, Foreign Relations, Military / Armed Forces, Politics in General, Russia, Ukraine

(Church Times) Africans starve while the world watches Ukraine

Humanitarian organisations have warned that the huge response to the war in Ukraine is overshadowing other crises around the world that are in need of urgent attention.

Charities and NGOs have begun urging governments and individuals not to forget the millions who are suffering in other countries.

The United Nations has warned that the situation in Somalia, where 4.5 million people are at risk of starvation owing to the worst drought in a decade, is deteriorating rapidly. The focus of the international community on Ukraine was sucking all the oxygen out of the room, Adam Abdelmoula, the UN humanitarian coordinator for Somalia, said last week.

The UN has said that $1.46 billion (£1.1 billion) is required to meet the immediate needs of Somalis. Only three per cent of that has been secured.

“The outlook was already grim prior to the outbreak of the Ukraine crisis,” Mr Abdelmoula said. “We have been overshadowed by the crisis in Tigray, Yemen, Afghanistan — and now Ukraine seems to suck all the oxygen that is in the room. . .

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Posted in Africa, Dieting/Food/Nutrition, Globalization, Poverty, Ukraine

We meet online to pray for Ukraine: Kyiv’s Anglicans spread across Europe continue to meet

Before Russia’s invasion, Kyiv had a small but thriving community of Anglicans. Today, members of Christ Church, which used to meet in the German Lutheran church Kyiv’s centre, come together to pray for peace online.

“We try to keep in touch via [the messaging apps] Viber or WhatsApp,” explained church warden Christina Laschenko-Stafiychuk.

“We also try to join Zoom vigil services on Wednesday evenings held by the Diocese in Europe during Lent to pray for Ukraine.”

Since the Russian invasion which began on February 24th, the once vibrant community has been scattered across Europe.

Christina said: “My daughter and I left Kyiv on March 4th. We left on an evacuation train going towards Lviv.

“We then took a train to Chełm in Poland, then on to Warsaw, and finally to Zurich

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Posted in Blogging & the Internet, Parish Ministry, Religion & Culture, Science & Technology, Spirituality/Prayer, Ukraine

(RNS) World Council of Churches faces calls to expel Russian Orthodox Church

The World Council of Churches is under pressure to oust the Russian Orthodox Church from its ranks, with detractors arguing the church’s leader, Patriarch Kirill, invalidated its membership by backing Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and involving the church in the global political machinations of Russian President Vladimir Putin.

The debate garnered a response on Monday (April 11) from the Rev. Ioan Sauca, acting general secretary of the WCC, which claims 352 member churches representing roughly 580 million Christians around the world.

Sauca, a priest in the Romanian Orthodox Church who has visited Ukrainian refugees and publicly criticized Kirill’s response to the invasion, pushed back on the suggestion of expelling the ROC, arguing doing so would deviate from the WCC’s historic mission to enhance ecumenical dialogue.

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Posted in Ecumenical Relations, Ethics / Moral Theology, Foreign Relations, Globalization, Military / Armed Forces, Orthodox Church, Politics in General, Russia, Ukraine

(NBC) Russia appoints general with cruel history to oversee Ukraine offensive

Russia’s reported appointment of Gen. Alexander Dvornikov, a man with a history of targeting civilians, to take over operations in Ukraine marks what some military analysts see as an indication that Russia intends to terrorize civilians as the war progresses.

Dvornikov, who most recently oversaw Russian troops in Syria, was chosen as the new ground commander in Ukraine, a U.S. official and a Western official confirmed.

The decision to bring in Dvornikov could be an acknowledgment of what U.S. intelligence officials have described as a failure to achieve the quick takeover Russian President Vladimir Putin envisioned, retired Adm. James Stavridis said Sunday on “NBC Nightly News.”

“The appointment of this new general indicates Vladimir Putin’s intent to continue this conflict for months, if not years,” Stavridis said.

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Posted in Military / Armed Forces, Russia, Ukraine

(Church Times) Parishes navigate obstacles to help refugees arriving in UK

Churches across the UK are continuing their efforts to assist refugees from the war in Ukraine.

The latest figures from the United Nations show that almost 4.3 million people have left Ukraine since the outbreak of war. The International Organization for Migration says that 7.1 million are displaced within the country.

In rural North Yorkshire, the Rector of the Whorlton Benefice, the Revd Dr Robert Opala, has been involved in helping several Ukrainian families find sanctuary.

Dr Opala, who is originally from Poland, has been working with the Middlesbrough-based charity Investing in People and Culture, which has facilitated the connections needed for refugees to apply for a visa under the Homes for Ukraine scheme.

The application process, Dr Opala said, has proved “difficult and complicated”, and has created “a lot of frustration and even anger”.

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Posted in Church of England (CoE), Ethics / Moral Theology, Foreign Relations, Immigration, Military / Armed Forces, Parish Ministry, Pastoral Theology, Politics in General, Religion & Culture, Russia, Ukraine, Uncategorized

(Church Times) Russian atrocities denounced by Ukrainian church leaders

Ukranian church leaders have hardened their tone amid growing evidence of Russian army atrocities in their country.

“As we received good news that the Kyiv region was liberated, we also received horrific footage of civilian killings: it is difficult to explain and understand how the murder of innocent people and children can be justified,” the leader of the independent Ukrainian Orthodox Church, Metropolitan Epiphany Dumenko, said.

“Today, we heard that the peoples of Holy Russia are peaceful, while we see the ideology of the ‘Russian world’ justifying murder, violence, and war. This ideology must be rejected and condemned, as was the ideology of Nazism.”

The message was published before a speech on Tuesday by President Zelensky to the United Nations Security Council, describing how civilians were shot in the streets, thrown into wells, and crushed by tanks in a list of alleged Russian war crimes.

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Posted in Ethics / Moral Theology, Military / Armed Forces, Orthodox Church, Parish Ministry, Russia, Ukraine, Violence

(WSJ) A Quarter of Africans Face Food-Security Crisis Partly Due to Ukraine War, Red Cross Says

A quarter of Africa’s population is facing a food-security crisis driven by severe drought, raging wars and a rise in world food prices caused by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, the International Committee of the Red Cross warned Tuesday.

Some 346 million people, from Mauritania in the west to the Horn of Africa in the east, are affected by food insecurity, Dominik Stillhart, the agency’s global operations director, told reporters in Nairobi.

“What we don’t want to see is the response that comes too late, and that is why it is so important to draw attention to the situation now,” Mr. Stillhart said.

Russia and Ukraine were major grain suppliers before the war, and the conflict is causing pain across the developing world, spurring price shocks, constraining imports of basic commodities and causing food shortages, with poorer nations in Africa especially affected.

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Posted in Africa, Dieting/Food/Nutrition, Globalization, Military / Armed Forces, Poverty, Russia, Ukraine

(NYT front page) The End of the (Pipe)line? Germany Scrambles to Wean Itself Off Russian Gas

Past a nudist beach and a sleepy marina, a gigantic mesh of metallic pipes rises from the pine forest behind the tiny village of Lubmin on Germany’s Baltic coast.

If few people have heard of Lubmin, from Berlin to Washington almost everyone seems to know the name of the two gas pipelines arriving here directly from Russia: Nord Stream 1, which carries almost 60 million cubic meters of natural gas per year to keep Europe’s biggest economy humming. And Nord Stream 2, built to increase that flow but abruptly shuttered in the run-up to Russia’s attack on Ukraine.

The pair of pipelines has become a twin symbol of Germany’s dangerous dependence on Russian gas — and the country’s belated and frenzied effort to wean itself off it — with calls growing for the European Union to hit Moscow with tougher sanctions as atrocities come to light in Ukraine.

On Tuesday, the European Commission, the E.U.’s executive branch, proposed banning imports of Russian coal and soon, possibly, its oil. But Russian gas — far more critical to Germany and much of the rest of Europe — was off the table. At least for now.

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Posted in Energy, Natural Resources, Foreign Relations, Germany, Military / Armed Forces, Politics in General, Russia, Ukraine

(Church Times) Rowan Williams adds his voice to calls for the WCC to eject Russian Orthodox Church

The former Archbishop of Canterbury Lord Williams has backed calls for the Russian Orthodox Church to be excluded from the World Council of Churches (WCC), as Patriarch Kirill of Moscow praised his country’s armed forces for acting in line with the gospel and Christian teaching.

“The case for expelling is a strong one, and I have a suspicion that some other Orthodox Churches would take the same view. Many in the Orthodox world feel that Orthodoxy itself is compromised,” Lord Williams told BBC Radio 4’s Sunday programme.

“The riot act has to be read. When a Church is actively supporting a war of aggression, failing to condemn nakedly obvious breaches in any kind of ethical conduct in wartime, then other Churches have the right to raise the question and challenge it — to say, unless you can say something effective about this, something recognisably Christian, we have to look again at your membership.”

The Archbishop, a Russian speaker and expert on Orthodoxy, spoke as Ukraine’s Prosecutor-General, Irina Venediktov, confirmed that the remains of more than 400 civilians, some bearing signs of rape and torture, had been recovered from Bucha, Irpen and other towns recently abandoned by Russian forces north of Kyiv.

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Posted in Ethics / Moral Theology, Military / Armed Forces, Orthodox Church, Parish Ministry, Russia, Ukraine

(NYT) Bristling Against the West, China Rallies Domestic Sympathy for Russia

While Russian troops have battered Ukraine, officials in China have been meeting behind closed doors to study a Communist Party-produced documentary that extols President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia as a hero.

The humiliating collapse of the Soviet Union, the video says, was the result of efforts by the United States to destroy its legitimacy. With swelling music and sunny scenes of present-day Moscow, the documentary praises Mr. Putin for restoring Stalin’s standing as a great wartime leader and for renewing patriotic pride in Russia’s past.

To the world, China casts itself as a principled onlooker of the war in Ukraine, not picking sides, simply seeking peace. At home, though, the Chinese Communist Party is pushing a campaign that paints Russia as a long-suffering victim rather than an aggressor and defends China’s strong ties with Moscow as vital.

Chinese universities have organized classes to give students a “correct understanding” of the war, often highlighting Russia’s grievances with the West. Party newspapers have run series of commentaries blaming the United States for the conflict.

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Posted in Foreign Relations, Globalization, Military / Armed Forces, Politics in General, Russia, Ukraine

(WSJ) In Ukraine, New Reports of War Crimes Emerge as Russians Retreat From Kyiv Area

More than 100 civilians lay buried in mass graves in this suburb of Kyiv after Russian troops withdrew last week, one of several regions in which Ukrainian officials and independent rights watchdogs say they are uncovering evidence of war crimes perpetrated by occupation forces.

When the Russian military forces abandoned Bucha, it left streets littered with bodies of civilians. Human Rights Watch on Sunday released a report documenting instances of rape and summary executions in Russian-occupied parts of Ukraine, including Bucha, as well as other alleged crimes.

Ukrainians were finding “people with hands tied behind their back and decapitated… kids who were killed and tortured,” Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said in an interview that aired Sunday on CBS. “As the father of two children and as a president, I think that these people, if they are put behind bars, this is one too little for what they have done.”

Accounts of purported Russian atrocities set off an outcry from Western governments and added to the persistent pressure on the Biden administration and European allies to do more to tighten sanctions on Russia and step up weapons transfers for Ukraine. They could make it harder for some countries to justify continuing to purchase oil and natural gas from Russia and complicate the peace talks currently under way between Kyiv and Moscow.

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Posted in Death / Burial / Funerals, Ethics / Moral Theology, Law & Legal Issues, Military / Armed Forces, Russia, Ukraine, Violence

(FT Magazine) ‘We packed fast’: those who left Ukraine, in their own words

Anastasia and Sonia arrived from Dnipro in central Ukraine. Hosted by the Świderski family

Anastasia says:
“My sister called me at 6am, February 24, and asked me if I am alive. I was shocked because I didn’t know what was happening at all, I didn’t listen to the news. My daughter was supposed to have a concert in the kindergarten that day, and she’d just woken up. We never watch the news on television, but after she called we turned it on to see what she was talking about. We saw that they started shooting and bombing all over Ukraine. I was shocked and didn’t know how to react. I started crying. We called a relative that has connections with the army and asked what to do, and she said that we have to leave the city.”

Marcin says:
“It was mostly my wife’s initiative [and] when Anastasia came to us, she asked why we are doing this, and it’s hard to explain. It’s something that feels so natural to us. Maybe because of ­historical reasons, that we thought that in the past, as a nation, we were abandoned during the war. So right now we feel this natural solidarity with this other country that is kind of in the same position — that there is an aggressor, and the rest of the world can’t really intervene, or they don’t want to. And I think that this is something that we as Polish people feel quite familiar with . . . There was no calculation. We didn’t even think it through that well.”

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Posted in Anthropology, Children, Ethics / Moral Theology, Foreign Relations, Immigration, Marriage & Family, Military / Armed Forces, Pastoral Theology, Poland, Politics in General, Russia, Ukraine, Violence

(WSJ) Russian Strategy in Ukraine Shifts After Setbacks, and a Lengthy War Looms

Russia’s war on Ukraine shifted gears this week, as Moscow, lacking the strength to pursue rapid offensives on multiple fronts, began pulling back from Kyiv and other cities in the north, and refocused for now on seizing parts of the country’s east.

The pivot, after five weeks of intense fighting, was a gauge of the intensity and effectiveness of Ukrainian resistance and signaled a decision by the Kremlin to pursue what is likely to become a prolonged war of attrition.

Ukraine’s counterattacks—including a helicopter strike inside Russian territory—and Moscow’s redeployment toward Donbas in Ukraine’s east suggest that both sides believe they can win, making it unlikely that peace talks will result in a deal anytime soon.

Russia’s “military and political strategy hasn’t changed, it remains to annihilate Ukraine,” said Andriy Zagorodnyuk, a former Ukrainian minister of defense who advises President Volodymyr Zelensky’s government. But he said, “Now, their capabilities no longer match their strategic vision.”

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Posted in Foreign Relations, Military / Armed Forces, Politics in General, Russia, Ukraine

(Church Times) Ukrainians hear note of hope as fighting goes on

Church leaders in Ukraine have begun talking more convincingly about victory over Russian forces.

The Primate of Ukraine’s independent Orthodox Church, Metropolitan Epiphany (Dumenko), told a Kyiv congregation on Sunday: “Although a heavy cross has fallen upon us, we must bear it with dignity, following Christ until we achieve victory — a spiritual victory over the evil brought to our homeland by the Russian aggressor. . .

“By the power of God’s truth and mercy, by the power of our people’s love, sacrifice, and faith, Ukraine — still wounded, tortured, and crucified by its enemies — will be resurrected.”

The Metropolitan preached as Russian forces continued shelling the capital, as well as Kharkiv, Sumy, Mykolaiv, Mariupol, and other cities, despite claims by Moscow last week that it was refocusing its offensive on eastern Ukraine.

He asked: “Have we, as a state and people, done something against Russia which merits this cruelty and murder — did we harbour evil plans against our neighbours, or did we just want to live in our own home as free people?”

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Posted in Military / Armed Forces, Orthodox Church, Parish Ministry, Russia, Ukraine, Violence

(BBC) Bishop of Coventry wants to retain ties with Volgograd despite twinning pause

The Bishop of Coventry wants the city to retain its link with Volgograd.

Coventry council voted on Tuesday to suspend the city’s 80-year twinning arrangement with the Russian city due to the Ukrainian war, despite an appeal by the Right Reverend Christopher Cocksworth for it to continue.

The bishop said it was important to “draw a distinction between the Putin state and the people of Russia”.

He said he would keep in contact with friends in the Russian city.

The Labour-run council said it was pausing its twinning links “with a heavy heart” until “such a time” they could resume.

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Posted in Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops, England / UK, Ethics / Moral Theology, Foreign Relations, Military / Armed Forces, Politics in General, Religion & Culture, Russia, Ukraine, Urban/City Life and Issues

John Rutter pens new work after Ukraine invasion – and holds surprise parish premiere

St Mary Magdalene, Wandsworth Common, played host to the premiere of ‘A Prayer for Ukraine’ this week, with funds raised going to the Disasters Emergency Committee’s Ukraine appeal.

He explained: “How can a composer respond to a global tragedy?

“I suppose by writing music: like everybody I have been shocked and dismayed by the events of recent days.

“The first thing I wanted to do was write music that would respond in my own way.

Read it all and do take the time to listen to it as well.

Posted in Church of England, Liturgy, Music, Worship, Parish Ministry, Ukraine

(NYT) ‘A Frightening Repeat’: Ukrainian World War II Survivors Face Conflict Again

Borys Zabarko was six years old when the Nazis invaded what is now Ukraine in 1941 and his hometown, Sharhorod, became a Jewish ghetto. Women, children and old men slept in packed rooms with no bathrooms or water, he said. As typhus epidemics raged, the ground was too cold to dig graves, and bodies were thrown on top of each other. Mr. Zabarko’s father and uncle, who fought with the Soviet army, died in combat.

After the liberation, Mr. Zabarko said he became convinced that nothing like that would ever happen again.

Now 86, he spent a recent night in the freezing train station in Lviv, in the west of Ukraine, standing on a crowded platform, as he tried to get on a train to escape another war.

“It’s a frightening repeat,” he said by phone from Nuremberg, Germany, where he fled with his 17-year-old granddaughter, Ilona, before eventually settling in Stuttgart. “Again, we have this murderous war.”

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Posted in Health & Medicine, History, Military / Armed Forces, Psychology, Russia, Ukraine

(NYT) As Russia Stalls in Ukraine, Dissent Brews Over Putin’s Leadership

In January, the head of a group of serving and retired Russian military officers declared that invading Ukraine would be “pointless and extremely dangerous.” It would kill thousands, he said, make Russians and Ukrainians enemies for life, risk a war with NATO and threaten “the existence of Russia itself as a state.”

To many Russians, that seemed like a far-fetched scenario, since few imagined that an invasion of Ukraine was really possible. But two months later, as Russia’s advance stalls in Ukraine, the prophecy looms large. Reached by phone this week, the retired general who authored the declaration, Leonid Ivashov, said he stood by it, though he could not speak freely given Russia’s wartime censorship: “I do not disavow what I said.”

In Russia, the slow going and the heavy toll of President Vladimir V. Putin’s war on Ukraine are setting off questions about his military’s planning capability, his confidence in his top spies and loyal defense minister, and the quality of the intelligence that reaches him. It also shows the pitfalls of Mr. Putin’s top-down governance, in which officials and military officers have little leeway to make their own decisions and adapt to developments in real time.

The failures of Mr. Putin’s campaign are apparent in the striking number of senior military commanders believed to have been killed in the fighting. Ukraine says it has killed at least six Russian generals, while Russia acknowledges one of their deaths, along with that of the deputy commander of its Black Sea fleet. American officials say they cannot confirm the number of Russian troop deaths, but that Russia’s invasion plan appears to have been stymied by bad intelligence.

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Posted in Military / Armed Forces, Russia, Ukraine

(Economist) Ukraine’s foreign minister warns of faltering European resolve

The European Union surprised the world—and itself—with its unified response after Vladimir Putin ordered his tanks into Ukraine on February 24th. Unprecedented sanctions and new security policies swiftly appeared. But as the war grinds into its second month and Russian missiles and shells continue to rain down on Ukrainian cities, European resolve has begun to wane. That is the stark assessment of Dmytro Kuleba, Ukraine’s foreign minister. “What we saw in the beginning of the war was the rise of the European Union as a powerful player that can bring change,” Mr Kuleba told The Economist. “What I see in the last ten days in the European Union is backsliding back to its normality where it cannot decide on strong and swift action.”

Mr Kuleba’s remarks were made on March 22nd by video link from an undisclosed location inside Ukraine. He highlighted two trials facing his country: Russian aggression on one side, and Western hesitancy on the other. The stakes remain as existential as ever, despite Russia’s initial setbacks on the battlefield. Russia’s shelling rings louder than its words. “There is no correlation between diplomatic dynamics and the dynamics on the battlefield,” Mr Kuleba said. Ukraine’s ability to prevail against its larger neighbour rests on three pillars, he argues: Ukrainian stamina, weapons supplies and Western sanctions. “We always realised that there would be no country fighting shoulder to shoulder with us, that it would be the cross that we have to bear. But to help us, countries can do two things: send us necessary weapons and impose sanctions.”

Western sanctions have already made an impact. “Almost every tenth sentence [Russian negotiators] say is about sanctions,” Mr Kuleba said. “It’s a pain for them.” But not yet painful enough. Many of the toughest-seeming measures have turned out to be what the minister calls “half-measures”.

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Posted in Europe, Foreign Relations, Military / Armed Forces, Politics in General, Russia, Ukraine

(New Statesman) Rowan Williams–Putin believes he is defending Orthodox Christianity from the godless West

But we might do worse than ask why non-Western cultures so fear being sucked into what they consider a moral vacuum. If all they see is a series of reactive demands for emancipation acted out against a backdrop of consumerism and obsession with material growth, the suspicion and hostility is a bit more intelligible. What do we in the shrinking “liberal” world think emancipation is for? Perhaps it is for the liberation of all individuals to collaborate in a positive social project, in a society of sustainable and fair distribution of goods. Perhaps it is for the construction of a social order in which our interdependence, national and international, is more fully acknowledged.

Solidarity with Ukraine involves sanctions that will cost us as well as Russians – decisions that will affect our reliance on oil and gas and open our doors to more refugees. If we are willing to accept these consequences for the sake of a positive vision of interdependence and justice, we shall have a more compelling narrative to oppose the dramatic, even apocalyptic, myths arising elsewhere in the world.

Unwelcome neighbours, after all, tend not simply to disappear; in which case, we must work out how we live respectfully with them. One thing that might be said in response to Patriarch Kirill is that neighbours have to be loved, not terrorised into resentful silence – a matter on which the God first acknowledged in Kyiv in 988 had a good deal to say.

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Posted in --Rowan Williams, Church History, History, Military / Armed Forces, Orthodox Church, Religion & Culture, Russia, Ukraine