Editors note: since this story was written, as of Wednesday night, Russia launched a series of attacks on Ukraine and Ukraine is preparing for possible war. The story is unfolding in real-time. Please follow major news sources for breaking updates.
Ukraine declared a state of emergency yesterday. Currently, there are about three million Ukrainian citizens living in Russia, and Ukraine has asked them all to leave Russia. Ukraine military contract personnel have been recalled to active duty, while the United States in announcing sanctions against Russia.
Along with the United States, countries like Japan, Australia, the U.K. and the European Union are imposing sanctions against Russia.
So what’s happening in Russia-Ukraine, and why are Russian forces being called to occupy Ukraine?
Putin’s strategic approach to a Ukraine invasion is most likely part of a wider strategy to “redraw the security map set with the collapse of the Soviet Union more than 30 years ago… and split the U.S. from its European partners, many of which rely heavily on Russia’s rich energy reserves.”
What is considered the largest military mobilization since World War II, there are now nearly 190,000 Russian troops at Ukraine’s borders. Meanwhile, the world awaits the coming hours and days to see how the Russian-Ukrainian tension will play out, and in what ways the rest of the world will be affected.
As Christians, it can be unsettling to consider the difficult state of the world, both domestically and abroad. We live in a fallen world, and as such we deal with war and international conflict.
As followers of Jesus, here are two things to consider in the coming days, weeks, and months.
1. Desire to live at peace with everyone. “If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all” (Romans 12:18). Matthew Henry states in his Romans commentary, “Since men became enemies to God, they have been very ready to be enemies one to another.” This passage isn’t necessarily encouraging total pacifism, but it urges a desire and intention to live peaceably with others. During times of domestic or international conflict, living peaceably with others can become more challenging. Consider Jesus in everything. “Above all, love each other deeply. . .” (1 Peter 4:8).
2. Pray for leaders. “I urge you, first of all, to pray for all people. Ask God to help them; intercede on their behalf, and give thanks for them. Pray this way for kings and all who are in authority so that we can live peaceful and quiet lives marked by godliness and dignity” (1 Timothy 2:1-2). We often wrongly forsake the power of prayer as an elusive waste of time, especially for figures or events that feel several-times removed from our own lives. Still, our prayers are the most powerful and effective thing we can offer the world, and we are called to pray for “all who are in authority.” That includes Volodymyr Zelenskyy and Vladimir Putin.
With the increase of technology, information consumption has exploded in the last 10 years. Before the internet, people relied on newspapers and word-of-mouth to consume breaking news – though now it’s available in a fraction of the time.
When the news causes anxiety or stress, sometimes it’s time to turn off the screen, take a deep breath, pray, and “fix your eyes on Jesus” (Hebrews 12:2).
For a Russia-Ukraine explainer article, see Morning Brew’s interview with a geopolitical expert.