As I write this letter, the West is becoming increasingly alarmed by the number of Russian troops gathering on the borders of Ukraine. President Putin has repeatedly said that Russia has no intention of invading Ukraine, and his government has repeatedly accused the West of ‘histrionics’. In fact, hopes raised by President Putin’s recent statement that the Kremlin has authorised a partial withdrawal of its forces were quickly dashed by NATO’s chief, Jens Stoltenberg who insisted that satellite imagery showed no evidence of such a withdrawal, in fact, strategically, quite the reverse. This was swiftly followed by Liz Truss our own foreign secretary urging the West at a press conference in Kyiv, to ‘wise up’ in its dealings with Russia.
She no doubt has a point – when war is looming, and peoples’ lives are at stake it is beholden upon all of our national leaders to act with prudence, wisdom and caution. Concerns that Russian information might be misleading or that their tacticians might be engineering a so called ‘false flag’ provocation to justify a military invasion of Ukraine are as shocking as they are deceitful. This is why the West must ensure that it acts with wisdom and integrity, powerfully speaking to those who threaten harm, and with care to those who are in harm’s way. Every nation has the right to defend itself, but the engagement of warfare should always be a last resort.
The Christian will be aware that although Jesus commanded his disciples ‘to love your neighbour as yourself’ (Matthew 19.19), he also commanded them to ‘love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you’ (Matthew 5.44). This is not a soppy, sentimental, ‘wishy-washy’ sort of love, but a love that allows the individual to keep a clear head and a clear perspective, not allowing oneself to descend into a mindless anger or hatred. Let’s pray that our national leaders will continue to act with as much tact and diplomacy as they can muster to encourage peace and deter the minds of those who might be tempted to go to war out of greed and evil self-interest.
“Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everybody. If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.” Romans 12.17-21
Since writing this initial post, Russia has invaded Ukraine, we therefore continue to pray for the people of Ukraine, and trust that they will not only be able to endure this ordeal with integrity and courage, but that the Western nations will do all that they can to ease their suffering, confront aggression and promote peace.