Russian forces invaded Ukraine by land, air, and sea overnight in the largest attack by one nation against another in Europe since World War II. Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba said on Twitter, “Putin has just launched a full-scale invasion of Ukraine. Peaceful Ukrainian cities are under strikes.”
According to European Union affairs chief Josep Borrell, “These are among the darkest hours of Europe since the Second World War.”
In a televised declaration of war, Russian President Vladimir Putin said he had ordered “a special military operation” to “strive for the demilitarization and denazification of Ukraine.” He added that “Russia cannot feel safe, develop, and exist with a constant threat emanating from the territory of modern Ukraine.”
Then he claimed in true dictator fashion, “All responsibility for bloodshed will be on the conscience of the ruling regime in Ukraine.”
“This is a grave emergency”
As CNN‘s Stephen Collinson reports this morning, “Decades of peace between nations on the European landmass ended with loud blasts in multiple Ukrainian cities. . . . thunderous explosions soon loomed over the capital Kyiv as air raid sirens wailed, heralding a dangerous new crisis for a world already rocked by turmoil.”
Shelling and missile strikes have been reported across the country. Russian-backed separatists launched attacks in the breakaway regions of Luhansk and Donetsk to the east, while Ukrainian officials said Russian troops have also attacked to the north from Belarus and to the south from the Black Sea.
According to an adviser to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, about forty people have been killed so far in the Russian attack and several dozen wounded. President Zelenskyy said at a briefing, “The Ukrainian military is waging hard battles, repelling attacks in Donbas and other regions in the east, north, and south.”
Global financial markets have plunged and oil prices are soaring. The Associated Press reports that Russia’s actions “could cause massive casualties, topple Ukraine’s democratically elected government and upend geopolitics and Europe’s post-Cold War security balance.”
US Ambassador to the United Nations Linda Thomas-Greenfield stated, “This is a grave emergency.” President Biden said the US and allies will be “imposing severe sanctions on Russia” later today. Mr. Biden said he spoke with the Ukrainian president, who asked him “to call on the leaders of the world to speak out clearly against President Putin’s flagrant aggression and to stand with the people of Ukraine.”
What does this mean for America?
CBS News reported yesterday that gas prices had already hit eight-year highs; they are now surging even higher. Sanctions or export controls against Russia could make semiconductor shortages even worse, while restrictions on wheat or metals “could drive the fiercest bout of inflation in decades to climb even higher.” Russian cyberattacks that continued yesterday against Ukraine could be directed at the US as well.
And this invasion could spark a wider war directly affecting American military personnel.
William Taylor, former US ambassador to Ukraine, predicted, “If the Russians succeed in establishing a sphere of influence or of dominating Ukraine, it won’t stop there. They will continue. The Poles and the Romanians, the Czechs will be very concerned as they see Russian tanks coming west from Russia into Ukraine toward them, and they will ask for reinforcements from the United States.”
American military families are already understandably concerned. Chris Brooks, one of my favorite radio hosts, told our listeners yesterday that he was especially praying for our military and invited them to call in to our conversation with specific prayer requests. One person who responded asked us to pray for a Marine and his wife, who is expecting their child any day. I cannot imagine what these days must be like for them and for so many others like them.
“We must be global Christians”
The day after 9/11, the French newspaper Le Monde announced, “We are all Americans.” Queen Elizabeth II sang the American national anthem at Buckingham Palace’s Changing of the Guard. In Brazil, Rio de Janeiro put up large billboards showing the city’s famous Christ the Redeemer statue embracing the New York City skyline.
What the billboard depicted is more than symbolism.
The renowned theologian John R. W. Stott used to say, “We must be global Christians with a global vision, because our God is a global God.” Because God is the king of the universe, every dimension of the universe falls within his care and compassion. He loves Ukrainians just as much as he loves Americans and Russians just as much as he loves Ukrainians.
“We must be global Christians with a global vision, because our God is a global God.” —John R. W. Stott
This is why, one day, all the nations of the world “shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning hooks; nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war anymore” (Isaiah 2:4). It is why in heaven we will join “a great multitude that no one could number, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages, standing before the throne and before the Lamb” (Revelation 7:9).
And it is why our Father calls his children to “love your neighbor as yourself” (Leviticus 19:18; Matthew 22:39). Lest you think your “neighbor” is limited to your local geography, remember that Jesus’ story of the Good Samaritan (Luke 10:25–38) identifies your neighbor as anyone who needs something you can provide. If you can intercede with compassion for the besieged people of Ukraine today, they just became your neighbor today.
If you had loved ones living in Ukraine, how would you feel about this crisis? That’s precisely how God feels about it.
Let’s join him.
Today, we are all Ukrainians.