Saturday, February 24, 2024

Two Years of “Martyred Ukraine”—Dare We Forget?

FEBRUARY 24th is here once again. With my prayers and my tears and the anguish of my heart, I cry out to the Lord for the suffering Ukrainian people… and also for the suppressed and broken Russians and the minority peoples who live under an iron yoke, and also for Eastern European nations that are still on high alert against dangers that they once thought were left in the past. This day reminds us that we live in a world at war. In particular, war rages in the lands on the inland seas from Europe to the Middle East. It has been a decade since Ukraine’s Maidan Revolution of Dignity represented that ancient nation’s decisive turn toward Europe and what was left of the best ideals of Western civil society (which they may well understand and appreciate much better than we do). They knew only too well that the alternative was submission to despotism. Ten years ago, the despotic regime began seizing Ukrainian territory, and two years ago today, it sent its armies in full force to conquer and subjugate the entire nation in violation of international law and the regime’s own prior solemn agreements.

Two years later, Ukraine continues to defend itself and fight to regain its rightful territory. Meanwhile, war seethes slowly like fire that may yet spread to places we cannot imagine. No one can predict the course of war. Many times in the past, history has approached the “threshold” of a “world war”—an intractable multi-national conflict of tumultuous destruction. We don’t know what decisions and/or chance events might push us over that threshold. For Ukraine, “tumultuous destruction” is already a present experience. It is intolerable. Dialogue must be carried out wherever possible, with whoever is sincere and might—at present or in the future—be able to bring the war to a responsible conclusion that respects international law. 

Not only does the safety of the Ukrainian people depend on respect for its borders, but the common good of the whole world requires fraternal solidarity between nations on this fundamental, “structural” level of physically defined and politically independent entities, even if this system is not perfect or doesn’t seem to account for regional complexities or the mobility of 21st century populations. There must be ongoing sincere dialogue on these issues. But one country (or the corrupt regime that controls it) cannot simply decide that its smaller neighbor has no right to exist and that its military is thus authorized to invade it and perpetrate violence and mayhem with impunity. Nor can nations invade to cut off pieces of other nations and claim authority over them. If Putinist Russia’s violent seizure of Ukrainian territory is permitted to stand, it will set a precedent that will threaten the territorial integrity of nations everywhere. 

And Ukraine has endured and fought against this horrible invasion for two years, with tremendous loss of life and wanton wreckage and destruction of its territory. There are no easy ways to “end the war” without setting the stage for other wars if Putinist imperialism is rewarded in any way. Right now the Ukrainians seem to bear the burden of this violence alone, and some think Ukraine is “a far away country” whose problems ought not to concern us. But the Russian invasion not only threatens the wider region and allies that are pledged to defend one another (i.e. NATO); it threatens to legitimize a new level of savagery in international relations everywhere, a new pretext for the strong to prey upon the weak. The fires of war may suddenly fall upon those who thought themselves safe and secure.

Where will we all be on February 24, 2025? Or 2026 or 2027? Wherever we are, however dire the circumstances, I hope we are not brought there from lack of courage and/or preoccupation with our own comforts. That would be to our shame.

I don’t think I can say anything on my small blog that will make much difference on how people perceive these events. But saying a little is better than nothing at all.

I stand with the people of Ukraine, unjustly and brutally invaded two years ago by the shameless Putinist Oligarchy that controls Russia, that continues to perpetuate violence and oppression against Ukraine, suffocates all opposition in its own country, and murders those who speak out against it.

May God have mercy on them, on their oppressors, on me, on all of us.