Category : Ukraine

(HP) Beloved Catholic Nun, Philomene Tiernan, Mourned As Victim Of Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17

Sister Philomene Tiernan, a Catholic nun living in Sydney, Australia, is being mourned by her community after being confirmed as a victim of Malaysia Airlines flight MH17, shot down over Ukrainian airspace on Thursday.

A statement issued by the Kincoppal-Rose Bay School of the Sacred Heart mourned her loss, as she had been associated with their community for over 30 years. “We are devastated by the loss of such a wonderfully kind, wise and compassionate woman, who was greatly loved by us all. Phil contributed greatly to our community and she touched the lives of all of us in a very positive and meaningful way,” said Principal Hilary Johnston-Croke.

“Her entire existence was to bring good into this world,” wrote Lucy Thackray, a former student of Tiernan’s in a Daily Mail Tribute. “But she gave unwavering guidance and taught people that faith in God, in themselves, and in the world would carry you through the journey.”

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Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, Australia / NZ, Death / Burial / Funerals, Defense, National Security, Military, Europe, Other Churches, Parish Ministry, Roman Catholic, Ukraine

(NPR) Joep Lange, Who Died On Flight MH17, Changed The Way We Fight AIDS

The AIDS community is in shock over the news that dozens of its members were aboard the Malaysia Airlines flight that was apparently shot down Thursday. The sorrow is particularly widespread over the death of , a Dutch researcher and advocate, who played a pivotal role in the AIDS movement for more than three decades.

“We’ve lost one of the giants in our field,” says Dr. , who heads the Harvard School of Public Health AIDS Initiative. “We’ve lost a voice that I don’t think is easily replaced.”

Colleagues of Lange said his career embodied some of the most important shifts in the way scientists have approached the fight against HIV/AIDS: He gave patients and advocates more of a say in setting the research agenda, and he worked with governments and businesses to ensure that breakthroughs in treatment become available to even the poorest patients.

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Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, Death / Burial / Funerals, Europe, Health & Medicine, Parish Ministry, Science & Technology, The Netherlands, Ukraine

(LA Times) Russia may have trained Ukraine separatists to use missiles, U.S. says

Pro-Russia separatists who are believed to have used the “Buk” antiaircraft missile system to shoot down a Malaysian airliner in eastern Ukraine probably needed Russian assistance to operate it, senior U.S. officials said Friday.

The Russian-designed missile system, also known as an SA-11, “is a sophisticated piece of technology, and it strains credulity to think that it could be used by separatists without at least some measure of Russian support and technical assistance,“ Rear Adm. John Kirby told reporters at the Pentagon.Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, Defense, National Security, Military, Europe, Russia, Science & Technology, Ukraine

([London Times]) Russian separatists ”˜mistook Malaysian jet for transport plane’+shot it down

Pro-Russian rebels shot down a Malaysian airliner over Ukraine after mistaking it for a military transport plane, according to phone-tapped recordings released by authorities in Kiev.

The recordings suggest that Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17, which had 283 passengers and 15 crew aboard, was targeted by a Cossack unit supporting the separatist forces in the Donetsk region.

It took the rebels about an hour to get to the scene of the crash and work out that the plane was not, as they had thought, a Ukrainian air force Antonov-26 but a passing passenger plane – prompting a Cossack commander to suggest that the aircraft must have been carrying spies.

”They shouldn’t be ****ing flying. There is a war going on,” he says.

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Posted in * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, Anthropology, Defense, National Security, Military, Ethics / Moral Theology, Europe, Foreign Relations, Politics in General, Russia, Theology, Ukraine

(Bloomberg) Putin Cornered as Malaysia Jet Crash Shows Isolation on Ukraine

President Vladimir Putin’s intransigence over Ukraine risks turning him into a global pariah should the blame for downing a Malaysian Air jet fall on pro-Russia rebels.

The crash of the Boeing Co. (BA) 777, which had 298 passengers on board, follows by less than 24 hours the imposition of new sanctions against Russia that targeted major energy companies and banks. While the rebels denied accusations by the Ukraine government that they shot down the flight, the U.S. said this week that the separatists were being supplied with more heavy weaponry from Russia.

“If there is solid evidence that it is the militants who did it and the weapon originated in Russia, there will be really strong pressure on Putin to really contribute to de-escalation,” Masha Lipman, an analyst at the Carnegie Moscow Center, said by phone. “This should change the way all nations, and not just the West, regard this conflict in Ukraine, and Russia’s role in it.”

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, Defense, National Security, Military, Ethics / Moral Theology, Europe, Foreign Relations, Politics in General, Russia, Theology, Travel, Ukraine

(RIA) Russia Takes Time to Consider US Sanctions

Shorty after the sanctions were unveiled, US President Barack Obama made a statement where he said these measures were designed to bring no inconveniences to US companies and its allies.

“These sanctions are significant, but they are also targeted – designed to have the maximum impact on Russia while limiting any spillover effects on American companies or those of our allies,” Obama vowed.

But Putin reminded about the existing agreement between Russia’s oil giant Rosneft and ExxonMobil that has granted the US-based energy corporation access to the Russian hydrocarbon reserves in the Arctic.

“So, don’t they want it [ExxonMobil] to work there? They are dealing damage to their biggest energy companies – and to what purpose?” Putin wondered speaking at a press conference on Thursday.

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Posted in * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., Defense, National Security, Military, Economy, Europe, Foreign Relations, Politics in General, Russia, Ukraine

(W. Post) As Ukraine cease-fire expires, violence escalates

Violence in Ukraine escalated sharply Tuesday, as artillery shells and airstrikes pierced the relative calm of a 10-day cease-fire hours after President Petro Poroshenko allowed it to expire.

Both sides appeared to be readying for a protracted battle after days in which the fighting diminished but did not disappear. It remained unclear whether the Ukrainian military, which has battled pro-Russian separatists since mid-April, would be able strike a decisive blow against the rebels, who have seized territory in eastern Ukraine.

The longer a conflict drags on, the greater the risk of further civilian casualties and the harder it will be for Ukraine’s new government to stitch the society back together. Ukraine’s economy presented a formidable challenge even without a growing insurgency in the country’s industrial heartland. The foreign ministers of Ukraine, Russia, Germany and France planned to meet Wednesday in Berlin in a last-ditch effort to restart negotiations, the Russian Foreign Ministry said late Tuesday.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, Defense, National Security, Military, Ethics / Moral Theology, Europe, Foreign Relations, Politics in General, Russia, Theology, Ukraine, Violence

(Ecnmst) New Europe is as divided about Russia as old Europe, with bad consequences for all

The lands lying between the Baltic and the Black Sea have had many names: the “bloodlands” of the second world war, the “captive nations” of the cold war, the “ex-communist” countries of the post-Soviet era and, for many, the “new members” of the European Union. Before the 2003 Iraq war, Donald Rumsfeld, America’s defence secretary, praised “new Europe” as pro-American, unlike “old Europe” (ie, France and Germany). The French president, Jacques Chirac, then chided the easterners as having “missed a great opportunity to keep quiet”.

The nomenclature must now change again, because of Ukraine. In its response to Vladimir Putin’s revanchism, Mr Rumsfeld’s new Europe is remarkably similar to the old one: divided roughly between north and south. Poland and the Baltic three are hawkish, believing that Russia has irrevocably changed the post-war order; Bulgaria and Hungary are among those opposed to tough sanctions who hope that business with Russia will somehow return to normal.

This spectrum might be a welcome sign of normality, if only the stakes were not so high. The divisions of eastern Europe aggravate those of the EU as a whole. Nobody tells easterners to shut up any more; even France is wooing them. But if the countries closest to Russia, with direct experience of Soviet occupation, cannot agree on sanctions, why should others endanger their still-fragile economies?

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, Ethics / Moral Theology, Europe, Foreign Relations, Politics in General, Russia, Theology, Ukraine, Violence

(Telegraph) Ukraine crisis: G7 to 'intensify sanctions' on Russia

The G7 group of nations agreed on Saturday to impose sanctions on Russia over its meddling in Ukraine, adding to international pressure on Moscow.

The move effectively adds the voices of Canada and Japan to Friday’s announcement by America, Germany, France, Italy and the UK that further sanctions were imminent.

The G7 group, which represents seven of the world’s major economies, said it hoped the measures would have a “significant impact” in persuading the Kremlin to stop stirring separatist violence in eastern Ukraine.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, Defense, National Security, Military, Economy, Ethics / Moral Theology, Europe, Foreign Relations, Globalization, Politics in General, Russia, Theology, Ukraine

(American Interest) Playing Putin’s Game

Given what we’ve seen in Ukraine, the US and the EU need to work much more closely together on policy vis a vis the non-Russian former Soviet states. This policy can’t be seen as simply legalistic or commercial, expanding free trade zones or supporting the rule of law and the development of institutions; security issues are also involved.

More, Europe’s failure to develop coherent energy policy is clearly a contributing factor to Putin’s transparent contempt for the bloc as well as to Europe’s continuing vulnerability to Russian pressure. Europe’s countries have many voices when it comes to energy policy; the United States needs to play a larger and more constructive role in the continent’s musings over energy policy, and the new American reserves now coming on line could be part of a long term strategy to reduce Europe’s vulnerability to energy blackmail.

The US may also need to consider how it can play a more useful role in Europe’s internal debates over economic policy. Europe’s weakness before Russian pressure is both directly and indirectly attributable in part to the fallout from the euro disaster. Economic pain has divided the union, alienated many voters both from Brussels and their national authorities, reduced Europe’s energy and resources for external policy ventures, contributed to the bitterness over immigration and fueled the rise of the extreme right wing parties Putin now seeks to mobilize. Important American interests have been seriously harmed by the monetary muddle in Europe, and Washington needs to think more carefully about how it can play a more consequential and constructive role.

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Posted in * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., Defense, National Security, Military, Economy, Energy, Natural Resources, Ethics / Moral Theology, Europe, Foreign Relations, Politics in General, Russia, Theology, Ukraine

(Time) NATO Could Send U.S. Troops to Eastern Europe

U.S. Air Force General Philip Breedlove, NATO’s supreme allied commander in Europe, has been given until Tuesday to propose measures in response to the ongoing presence of Russian troops along the border with eastern Ukraine

NATO troops, including Americans, could be deployed to Eastern Europe in an effort to shore up defenses in allied countries that share a border with Russia, a top U.S. military official said Wednesday.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, --Eastern Europe, Defense, National Security, Military, Ethics / Moral Theology, Europe, Foreign Relations, Politics in General, Russia, Theology, Ukraine, Violence

Thomas Friedman on Ukraine, Vladimir Putin and Globalization

My own view is that today’s global economic and technological interdependence can’t, of course, make war obsolete ”” human beings will always surprise you ”” but globalization does impose real restraints that shape geopolitics today more than you think….For reinforcement, I’d point to the very original take on this story offered by Michael Mandelbaum, the Johns Hopkins foreign policy expert whose new book, “The Road to Global Prosperity,” argues that while global economics does not eliminate geopolitics, it does indeed trump global geopolitics today. It’s the key to trumping Putin, too.

As Mandelbaum (my co-author on a previous work) explains in his book, it is not either-or. Geopolitics never went away, even as globalization has become more important. For globalization to thrive, it needs a marketplace stabilized by power. Britain provided that in the 19th century. America does so today and will have to continue to do so even if Putin becomes a vegetarian pacifist.

But get a grip, Mandelbaum said in an interview: “Putin is not some strange creature from the past. He is as much a product of globalization as Davos Man.”

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, Economy, Ethics / Moral Theology, Europe, Foreign Relations, Globalization, Politics in General, Russia, Theology, Ukraine

(ABC Aus.) Antoine Arjakovsky–The Consolations of Crimea

On 19 March, the Patriarch of Moscow issued the justification in favour of peace among “the people of Holy Russia.” In its decoded form, the position of Patriarch Kirill is as follows: since the majority of the people of Crimea are Russian speaking, and since Crimea had been the cradle of the Rus of Kiev, it is thus natural that Crimea rejoin “the Russian world.” Patriarch Kirill’s right-hand man, Father Vsevolod Chaplin, went so far as to say that all of the Ukraine should be annexed by Russia.

It is at this point, however, that we should explain to our Russian friends they must not confuse nationality with citizenship. It is unimaginable that France would organize a referendum in Wallonia on the pretext that the majority of Belgians are French speaking. Moreover, it is not because Clovis was baptized by a bishop who was subject to the Bishop of Rome that Italy should become French today. It is well known that Russia has only existed as a state since the seventeenth century and only occupied Crimea in the year 1855. Thus it is today that we are witnessing the incapacity of the Russian state to disengage itself from its imperial and colonial mentality and the tragic amnesia of the Russian church, which has forgotten that phyletism or ecclesial nationalism is a heresy that has been condemned by the Orthodox Church.

Now let us turn to the justification offered by Vladimir Putin. On 18 March, the day of the annexation of Crimea, the Russian president made reference to the 2010 decision of the International Court of Justice, which authorized Kosovo to declare its independence. Angela Merkel judged that this comparison was quite simply “shameful.” In fact, as Paul Linden-Retek and Evan Brewer have shown, the cases of Kosovo and Crimea have absolutely nothing in common for three major reasons.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, Ethics / Moral Theology, Europe, History, Orthodox Church, Other Churches, Russia, Theology, Ukraine

(BBC) Ukraine crisis: Kerry and Lavrov in new push for solution

US Secretary of State John Kerry has diverted his homebound flight at the last minute, for hastily arranged talks on the Ukraine crisis with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov.

The decision came after President Vladimir Putin spoke to President Barack Obama by phone late on Friday.

Mr Obama has called on Russia to pull its troops back from Ukraine’s border.

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Posted in * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, Defense, National Security, Military, Europe, Foreign Relations, Politics in General, Russia, Ukraine

(BP) Frank Page–Called to Pray for Ukraine

After speaking [with Vyacheslav Nesteruk, president of the Baptist Union of Ukraine] on a number of points of mutual interest, we discussed specific prayer requests. Brother Nesteruk specifically asked Southern Baptists to pray for the following:

— That there would be no war in Ukraine, but peace.

— That there would be a sense of peace in the hearts of Ukrainian people, rather than a sense of unrest or anxiety.

— For the economic situation, as sanctions imposed by Russia have already begun making life difficult in Ukraine.

— Most of all, that people would be open to the Gospel and actively seek the Gospel during these troubled times.

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Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, Baptists, Europe, Foreign Relations, Other Churches, Politics in General, Religion & Culture, Russia, Spirituality/Prayer, Ukraine, Violence

Rowan Williams tells Univ. audience 'It's not just wicked Russia versus plucky Ukraine'

Responding to a public question following his talk at Anglia Ruskin’s Cambridge campus this week, Lord Williams said Russia had behaved “unlawfully” by moving troops into the region of Crimea, which is part of the sovereign state of Ukraine.

He said: “The annexation of Crimea is a legally pretty dubious venture. To have a plebiscite in a certain region of another sovereign state and declare that therefore you can annexe it seems to me a deeply worrying re-run of the 1930s.

“I’m wary of any military action to defend Ukraine against Russia. I’m looking hard to see what further diplomatic as well as sanction-based initiatives may follow because I don’t think it is simply a case of ”˜wicked aggressive Russia and plucky little Ukraine’.

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, --Rowan Williams, Archbishop of Canterbury, Defense, National Security, Military, Ethics / Moral Theology, Europe, Religion & Culture, Russia, Theology, Ukraine

(PBS Newshour) Calculating a U.S. response to ”˜new reality’ of Russia’s claim in Crimea

RICHARD HAASS, Council on Foreign Relations: Not a lot to add, actually, Judy.

The real question for all of us is whether what we’re hearing is one of what you might call a Crimea exceptionalism. He did this in order, say, to compensate for the loss of Kiev. And this was his way of saving face and saving some strategic position.

That’s one ”” it’s one set of problems that poses to us, mainly the way he went about it. On the other hand, if this presages something more, an effort to rebuild parts of a lost empire, then, obviously, it’s far more worrisome.

We simply don’t know. Interestingly enough, I’m not sure Mr. Putin knows. One always assume that the adversary, the guy across the table has a fully articulated and elaborated game plan. It’s quite possible he’s improvising and making this up as he goes along, and what he does next will depend in part upon what domestic reactions are and obviously, even more, what the international response is.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., Economy, Ethics / Moral Theology, Europe, Foreign Relations, Politics in General, Russia, Theology, Ukraine, Violence

The Bishop of St Albans, Alan Smith: Ukraine Crisis – the Religious Dimension

The referendum will have done nothing to have diminished the risk of inter-ethnic violence.

Against this uncertain and volatile background, the Christian churches of Europe, through the Conference of European Churches, have been in contact with the All Ukrainian Council of Churches and Religious Organisations, a body that includes Jewish and Muslim representatives as well as Christian churches. A letter signed by the present CEC president, known to many Members of your Lordships’ House as the recently retired Bishop of Guildford, expresses solidarity and support, urges an end to further polarisation in Ukrainian society and assures them that churches elsewhere in Europe are urging a democratic and diplomatic solution to the problems facing Ukraine. I know that Bishop Christopher Hill will be talking later this week to other European church leaders about how this solidarity and support can be given more tangible shape through the Conference of European Churches.

Even if this crisis has cast a Cold War shadow over Europe, it is important that we remain in dialogue with the Russian Orthodox Church. That is not always an easy task given the Russian orthodox world view. I am encouraged that only last month the right reverend Prelate the Bishop of London met representatives of the Russian Orthodox Church to discuss the theological education of students from the Russian Orthodox Church here in the UK. However this crisis plays out, and I pray as I am sure many of us do for a speedy and peaceful resolution, it is important that we do not sanction measures that put such dialogue at risk.

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, Anglican Provinces, Church of England (CoE), City Government, CoE Bishops, Ecumenical Relations, England / UK, Europe, Foreign Relations, Orthodox Church, Other Churches, Politics in General, Religion & Culture, Russia, Ukraine, Violence

(Wash. Post) Russia's Putin prepares to annex Crimea

President Vladimir Putin put the annexation of Crimea on a fast track Tuesday morning, ordering the drafting of an accession agreement between Crimea and Russia.

Later in the day he will be making an unusual address to a joint session of the Russian parliament, where he will lay out his plans for the region.

The speech comes as a defiant Russia shows no sign of bending to American or European pressure over the Crimea crisis, which has turned into the sharpest confrontation between Moscow and the West since the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan in 1979.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., Defense, National Security, Military, England / UK, Ethics / Moral Theology, Europe, Foreign Relations, Globalization, Politics in General, Russia, Theology, Ukraine

U.S. warns Russia against annexing Crimea

Having failed to prevent a Russian-sponsored referendum in Crimea, the Obama administration and its European allies refocused their efforts Sunday on keeping Moscow from annexing the autonomous Ukrainian region and expanding its military moves into other parts of Ukraine.

In a telephone call to Russian President Vladi­mir Putin ”” his third in two weeks ”” President Obama said that the referendum “would never be recognized by the United States and the international community” and that “we are prepared to impose additional costs on Russia for its actions,” the White House said.

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Posted in * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., Defense, National Security, Military, Europe, Foreign Relations, Politics in General, Russia, Ukraine

(Bosnewslife) Pro-Russian Forces Kidnap Ukranian Catholic Priest In Crimea

A Ukrainian Greek Catholic priest was kidnapped Saturday, March 15, by pro-Russian forces in Ukraine’s Crimean Peninsula, adding to concerns the tensions may turn into a religious and ethnic conflict, church sources said.

Priest Mykola Kvych, a church leader and Ukrainian military chaplain, was abducted after celebrating the liturgy in the port city of Sevastopol, the base of Russia’s Black Sea Fleet, according to church officials familiar with the case.

“Every abduction is a terrible event for everybody involved,” added Bishop Borys Gudziak, the Eparch of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Eparchy in published remarks. “It’s a gross violation of human rights and God-given human dignity,” he told Vatican Radio.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, Europe, Religion & Culture, Russia, Ukraine, Violence

[Times of India] First Crimean War: The Indian connection & parallels with current Crimea conflict

…Some answers might lie in the Crimea, the Black Sea peninsula which Vladimir Putin has just grabbed for Russia, but where in 1850s a British-led coalition scored a rather battered win over Russia, partly due to the new rifles.

That may now be called the First Crimean War and today it is mainly remembered for the nursing of Florence Nightingale and the suicidal charge of the Light Brigade. Yet despite the 160-year gap, there are interesting parallels between the two Crimean conflicts. Just as Putin claims he only stepped in to protect Russians in the Crimea from fascist Ukrainians, the tsar of Russia then claimed to be acting only to protect Orthodox Christians from the Muslim Ottomans who controlled the Black Sea coast.

Russian Bear Hug

In both cases the ostensible reasons covered something more basic: Russia’s determination to extend its influence and the determination of European (now Western) powers to resist this. Caught between them was a hapless local state, Ukraine now, Ottoman then. And where the earlier crisis brought together a curious British-French-Turkish-Sardinian (yes, really) coalition, we may yet see a curious coalition come together against Russia now. India, like most of the world, will be an anxious observer, but it was deeply linked to the earlier war, and may even have been partly its cause.

Through the 19th century Russia and Britain fought over Asia. This has been called the Great Game, since it was mostly covert and done through spies, with Crimea being the rare time it actually came to battle. The Game’s big prize was India, where after decades of battling both Indian and other European powers, the British were now in control and extracting considerable riches.

For the Russians India was a rich, warm target far more tempting than the bleak and chilly interiors of Asia that lay between them. And geography suggested a short-cut, sidestepping the barrier of the Himalayas. If they could control the Black Sea, then the Bosphorus gave them a sea road which was only guarded by the tottering Ottoman regime.

And if they could gain that, then the whole eastern Mediterranean was in their grasp and so the approach to Arabia and India. The British knew this and worried about Russia much as we do about China today….

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Posted in * International News & Commentary, Europe, Ukraine

(Economist Leader) Crisis in Ukraine: Kidnapped by the Kremlin

The West is not about to go to war over Ukraine, nor should it. Not enough of its interests are at stake to risk a nuclear conflict. But the occupation of Crimea must be punished, and Mr Putin must be discouraged from invading anywhere else.

Mr Putin expects a slap on the wrist. Sanctions must exceed his expectations. Shunning the G8 summit, which he is due to host in June, is not enough. It is time to impose visa bans and asset freezes on regime-connected Russians (the craven parliamentarians who rubber-stamped their army’s deployment should be among the first batch); to stop arms sales and cut Kremlin-friendly financial firms from the global financial system; to prepare for an embargo on Russian oil and gas, in case Ukrainian troops are slaughtered in Crimea or Russia invades eastern Ukraine. And the West should strengthen its ability to resist the Kremlin’s revanchism: Europe should reduce its dependence on Russian gas (see article); America should bin restrictions on energy exports; NATO should be invigorated.

Ukraine needs aid, not only because it is bankrupt, but also because Russia can gravely harm its economy and will want to undermine any independent-minded government. America and the EU have found some billions in emergency funds, but Ukraine also needs the prospect, however distant, of EU membership and a big IMF package along with the technical assistance to meet its conditions. A vital start is a monitored election to replace today’s interim government and the parliament, which is for sale to the highest bidder.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, Defense, National Security, Military, Europe, Foreign Relations, History, Politics in General, Russia, Ukraine, Violence

(ABC Aus.) The Cost of Christian Citizenship: Lent in Ukraine

What with the impending centenary of the outbreak of the First World War, it’s understandable that commentators should reach back to the European crisis of 1914 for possible parallels to the European crisis of 2014.

But watching the “debate” in the upper house of the Russian parliament on 1 March, as the solons “considered” President Vladimir Putin’s “request” for “authorization” to deploy Russian armed forces in Ukraine, the thought occurred that the proper analogy to all this is not Sarajevo 1914, but Berlin 1935, when the German Reichstag approved the notoriously anti-Semitic Nuremberg Laws. The same dynamics were in play: blatant racism and xenophobia, a crude and violent nationalism impervious to moral scrutiny, the multiplication of lies by ranting lawmakers. Amid the polymorphous moral confusions of postmodernity, Nazism is perhaps the one available icon of unambiguous and unadulterated evil; that iconography should not be marred by inappropriate analogizing for the sake of rhetorical effect. But the utter abandonment of reason, decency, and honesty in Moscow 2014 did seem eerily familiar.

That those Russian parliamentarians, and the Putinesque “managed democracy” they embody, will not face serious internal opposition from Russian leaders who might be expected to challenge xenophobic nationalism in the name of higher truths was made painfully clear a day later. Patriarch Kirill of Moscow, the leader of Russian Orthodoxy, shares a KGB background with President Putin and leads a Church that, as a senior Catholic official once put it to me, “only knows how to be chaplain to the czar – whoever he is.” For years now, Kirill and his “foreign minister,” the youthful Metropolitan Hilarion of Volokolamsk, have been engaged in a massive campaign of seduction aimed at the Vatican, American Evangelicals and other vibrant and influential Christian forces in the West – a campaign putatively in aid of forging a united front against decadent secularism and materialism.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, Europe, Foreign Relations, Politics in General, Religion & Culture, Russia, Theology, Ukraine, Violence

(OSV) Ukrainian churches in middle of upheaval

As the political situation in Ukraine’s Crimean peninsula heats up and Ukrainians are still reeling from three months of determined occupation protests in Kiev that culminated in dozens of deaths and injuries, churches and religious officials have taken an active role.

“Our own Church stayed with the people as the struggle widened from a political one over integration with Europe into a larger one for basic human rights and dignity,” said Bishop Hlib Lonchyna, from Ukraine’s Greek Catholic Church, which combines the Eastern Rite with loyalty to Rome. “It supported the people’s just aspirations throughout, while our priests led prayers and administered sacraments. It’s important we now look at things in a Christian way ”” seeking justice without revenge.”

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Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, Ethics / Moral Theology, Europe, Foreign Relations, Parish Ministry, Politics in General, Religion & Culture, Russia, Theology, Ukraine, Violence

(CT) Philip Jenkins–The 160-Year Christian History Behind What's Happening in Ukraine

Tsarist power is long gone, and the Soviet regime that succeeded it had no time for mystical visions. Yet, as that Soviet idea perished in its turn, Russians have turned once more to the religious roots of national ideology. Post-Soviet regimes have worked intimately with the Orthodox Church, which has been happy to support strong government and to consecrate national occasions. In return, the state has helped the church rebuild Orthodox cathedrals and monasteries aplenty. For 20 years now, both state and church have even labored to reconstruct the once potent Russian presence in the holy places themselves, now of course under Israeli political control.

Why are we surprised to see this new holy Russia extend its protecting arm over the Christian-backed Ba’athist regime in Syria? Russian regimes have been staking a claim to guard that region’s Christians for 250 years.

It would be pleasant to think that the U.S. and Europe are taking these religious factors into full account as they calculate their response to the present crisis in Crimea and Ukraine. Pleasant, but unlikely.

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Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, Church History, Europe, History, Religion & Culture, Russia, Ukraine

(WSJ) An Important Graphic–Half of Russia's natural gas exports to Europe run through Ukraine

Read and look through it all.

Posted in * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, Consumer/consumer spending, Corporations/Corporate Life, Economy, Energy, Natural Resources, Ethics / Moral Theology, Europe, Foreign Relations, Politics in General, Russia, Theology, Ukraine

(SMH) Nick O'Malley–War of words at UN over Russia's Crimea move

Russia has told the United Nations Security Council that it has occupied Crimea at the request of the ousted Ukrainian president, Viktor Yanukovich, in order to protect civilians from armed extremists….

The American ambassador, Samantha Power, dismissed the Russian position. “Listening to the representative of Russia, one might think that Moscow had just become the rapid response arm of the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights,” she said. “So many of the assertions made this afternoon by the Russian Federation are without basis in reality.

“It is a fact that Russian military forces have taken over Ukrainian border posts. It is a fact that Russia has taken over the ferry terminal in Kerch. It is a fact that Russian ships are moving in and around Sevastapol. It is a fact that Russian forces are blocking mobile telephone services in some areas. It is a fact that Russia has surrounded or taken over practically all Ukrainian military facilities in Crimea. It is a fact that today Russian jets entered Ukrainian airspace.”

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., Defense, National Security, Military, Europe, Foreign Relations, Globalization, Politics in General, Russia, Ukraine

(NYRB) Timothy Snyder–Ukraine: The Haze of Propaganda

Whatever course the Russian intervention may take, it is not an attempt to stop a fascist coup, since nothing of the kind has taken place. What has taken place is a popular revolution, with all of the messiness, confusion, and opposition that entails. The young leaders of the Maidan, some of them radical leftists, have risked their lives to oppose a regime that represented, at an extreme, the inequalities that we criticize at home. They have an experience of revolution that we do not. Part of that experience, unfortunately, is that Westerners are provincial, gullible, and reactionary.

Thus far the new Ukrainian authorities have reacted with remarkable calm. It is entirely possible that a Russian attack on Ukraine will provoke a strong nationalist reaction: indeed, it would be rather surprising if it did not, since invasions have a way of bringing out the worst in people. If this is what does happen, we should see events for what they are: an entirely unprovoked attack by one nation upon the sovereign territory of another.

Insofar as we have accepted the presentation of the revolution as a fascist coup, we have delayed policies that might have stopped the killing earlier, and helped prepare the way for war. Insofar as we wish for peace and democracy, we are going to have to begin by getting the story right.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, Defense, National Security, Military, Ethics / Moral Theology, Europe, Foreign Relations, History, Media, Politics in General, Psychology, Russia, Theology, Ukraine

(LA Times) Any U.S. steps to punish Russia unlikely to alter course in Ukraine

The U.S. and its European allies can take steps to isolate Russia diplomatically, which would undermine Putin’s claim that his country is again ascendant as a world leader. They can also take steps that would pinch the Russian elite, which relishes its access to Western Europe.

Some of the moves would sting. But none is likely to greatly change the behavior of Putin, experts say.

“Putin is prepared for this kind of international backlash,” said Eugene Rumer of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, who was the U.S. national intelligence officer for Russia until December. “In his mind, this won’t be paying too much of a price.”

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Posted in * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., Defense, National Security, Military, Europe, Foreign Relations, Politics in General, Russia, Ukraine