|Crisis in Crimea|
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To understand the crisis in Crimea, one needs to learn how Russia seized Czechoslovakia and crushed the Prague spring in 1968. That observation was from Rev. Bill Bathman, my Father-in-Law, who has served as a Missionary for over 60 years, mostly in Eastern Europe, behind the Iron Curtain, during the Cold War. Bill Bathman and Brother Andrew were in Prague in 1968 as the Russian T-62s roared into town, flattening civilian cars as they occupied Wenceslaus Square.
Lessons of History
As Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, declared: "If we do not know our own history, we will simply have to endure all the same mistakes, sacrifices and absurdities all over again."
Strength and Weakness
Winston Churchill, referring to the Communists, declared: "There is nothing they respect more than strength. There is nothing they despise more than weakness!"
First Hand Experience
I have served the persecuted Church throughout Africa and Eastern Europe. I had the privilege of travelling on numerous occasions with Rev. Bill Bathman: in East Germany, Hungary, Yugoslavia, ministering in Poland, Czechoslovakia, Romania, Bulgaria and Albania. I have numerous friends in Eastern Europe and have also ministered to Russians in Africa, including during the war in Angola and Mozambique. When I was captured by communist forces in Mozambique in 1989, I was escorted by Russian forces in Mi8-Hip helicopters and then in an Antinov 26, to Machava (SNASP Security) Prison in Maputo.
Double Standards and Hypocrisy
Many of my East European friends think that the American government is extremely hypocritical, considering that they betrayed over 100 million Christians in Eastern European countries, to Stalin's Soviet Union through the Yalta Agreement in 1945. Ukraine was freed by Germany in 1917 and this independence was recognised by Vladimir Lenin's Soviet Union in the Brest-Litovsk Treaty of March 1918.
However, the Allies at the Versailles Treaty betrayed the Ukraine back into the hands of the Soviet Union. Many millions of Ukrainians were slaughtered under, first Lenin's and then, Stalin's brutal purges. Ukraine was again liberated by Germany in WWII, but then betrayed by Allies through the Yalta Agreement back into the blood-stained hands of Stalin's Soviet Union.
Valiant Struggle for Freedom
The Ukrainian Army continued to fight for their freedom and independence for 10 years after the conclusion of WWII. Units of the Ukrainian Army were still operating, with field artillery, fighting valiantly against Soviet oppression, as late as 1955. Yet without receiving any support from the Allies.
How Capitalists Saved Communism from Collapse
As our friends in Eastern Europe point out to us, without the extravagant support of the United States, United Kingdom and Canada, Stalin's Soviet Union could not have even survived Operation Barbarossa in 1941. Even before America entered WWII officially, vast quantities of military hardware were being flown, shipped and trucked into Russia via Alaska, Persia and Murmansk. An official list of military hardware supplied by the USA to the USSR from 1941, includes: 7,056 tanks; 14,795 military aircraft; 51,503 Jeeps; 375,883 trucks; 35,170 motorcycles; 8,071 tractors; 8,218 artillery pieces; 131,633 machine guns; 345,735 tonnes of explosives; 1,981 locomotives; 90 cargo ships; 4,478,000 tonnes of food supplies; 1,078,965,000 Dollars of machines and equipment; 2,670,000 tonnes of petroleum products; 49,860 tonnes of leather; 3,786,000 tyres; 15,417,000 pairs of army boots; 106,893,000 tonnes of cotton; building equipment valued at $10,000,910,000; another 802,000 tonnes of non-iron metals; along with 29 oil tankers; 433 combat ships; mobile bridges; railway equipment; aircraft radio equipment and vast amounts of other items. This list does not include the very generous aid given by Great Britain to the Soviet Union, which included 5,800 aircraft; 4,292 tanks and 12 mine sweepers. Canada supplied the Soviet Union with another 1,188 tanks; 842 armoured cars, 1,000,000 artillery shells and 208,000 tonnes of wheat and flour.
Failure to Support Freedom
However, no aid was supplied to the Ukrainian Freedom fighters, or the Lithuanian forces, who were battling the most brutal dictatorship in the history of the world. So our friends in the Ukraine are extremely cynical about what NATO, the EU and the US are involved in now, interfering in this Ukrainian - Russian conflict.
Russian friends point out that there is no way that President Vladimir Putin can allow Russia's only ice-free port in the Crimea to fall out of the control of the Russian Federation. As Murmansk is up in the Arctic Circle and under ice most of the year and Vladivostok is frozen up with ice half the year, the Russian Navy's only ice-free ports are in the Crimea. To compare what is at stake, one should consider what Americans would think if California (with the strategic San Diego Naval Base) or Virginia (with Norfolk) strategic naval bases were to secede and be affiliated with Russia. How acceptable would that be?
Short-sighted and Disastrous
Patrick Buchanan has dealt with the consequences of short-sighted policies and double-standards in his books: A Republic - Not An Empire; and Churchill, Hitler and the Unnecessary War - How Britain Lost Her Empire and The West Lost the World.
Russia today produces more oil than any other country on earth. With the price of oil, that translates to massive earnings. Russia is now the second largest oil exporter in the world, whereas the United States is the largest oil importer on earth, followed by China.
Russia today produces more natural gas than any other country. Russia supplies 34% of Europe's natural gas requirements.
Debt and GDP
While the United States debt is greater than its Gross Domestic Product, (over 100%), Russia's debt is only 8% of its Gross Domestic Product (GDP).
While the United States has a trade deficit of more than $500 billion a year, Russia consistently runs a large trade surplus.
While the United States unemployment is officially 7.4%, Russia's unemployment is 5.4%.
Economic Growth Rate
Since Vladimir Putin became president of Russia, the Russian GDP has doubled. Today Russia is rated as the 6th largest economy in the world. Industry in Russia has grown over 75% in the last 8 years. Investments have increased by 125%. The average salary in Russia has increased over 800%. The middle class has grown from 8 million to 55 million and people living below the poverty line have decreased from 30% in the year 2000, to 14% in 2008.
Russia has also added over 570 metric tonnes of gold to their Reserves over the last decade. It is pretty serious when the Russians are warning the Americans about the dangers of socialism.
The New Evil Empire
Christians in Russia have expressed their shock at how America has become a new evil empire. Promoting abortion and privileges for perverts, with an aggressive pro-homosexual agenda, bullying Africa governments to legalise abortion and homosexuality, and sending generous aid to radical middle-Eastern governments, which severely persecute the Christian Church.
Fuelling Islamic Extremism
Most Americans seem oblivious to the devastating consequences of their State Department's foreign policy: The bombing and burning of churches in the Middle East that followed the Arab Spring, was in so many ways funded and fuelled by US State Department policy. The devastation of Christians in Iraq, where under the dictator, Sadam Hussein, Christians were protected, but now under the Islamic democracy installed by American forces, Christians are severely persecuted. More than a million Christians have fled Iraq since 2003. These realities are seldom understood in America.
Christian Casualties of Western Policies
Now the US government is channelling aid to Al Qaida affiliated Islamic Jihadists in Syria, who are viciously persecuting Christians in the areas that they control. The secular military dictatorship of Assad had left the Christians alone. At 6% of the population, the Christians in Syria were not considered a serious threat and were actually protected from radical Islamicists. Now by supporting Islamic insurgents who are turning Syria into a catastrophic bloodbath, the West is destabilising one of the last countries in the Middle East where Christians were experiencing some stability and protection.
A Warning from Russia
Xavier Lerma of Pravda in Moscow, wrote: "Reagan called the Soviet Union the Evil Empire and rightly so. The Soviet Union was the Russian people held hostage by the Communists. Putin and Reagan listened to Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn. Those who listen to their elders tend to be wiser. Vladimir Putin allows Christianity to flourish, unlike the liberals in America, who have their own warped idea of freedom from God and a denial of evil's existence in the world.
The Spiritual Threat
"There is a reason why most public schools in America do not teach the Bolshevik Revolution and its true consequences. There are people in the West that want to remove everything related to Christ from public view, just as the Communists did during the Soviet enslavement of Russia. 21st century Russia is proof that Christianity can prevail against darkness and confusion. Today the liberals who control the West fear Putin as though doomsday was tomorrow. It is not a nuclear threat, but rather a spiritual renewal that threatens them. It is not Putin, but Russia's Christianity they fear. Rather it is Christ they truly fear and hate. They tried to persuade Americans by scaring everyone with ideas of Putin as the evil KGB out to destroy the world… They demonized Putin because it is not our world, but their liberal world that is in danger of being destroyed.
Ignoring Christian Brothers
"How can conservative media sources in America, who claim to be Christian, ignore their Christian brothers in Russia, who are now successful? Martyrs they ignore and the blood that was shed to restore the Christian Church in Russia. They are con-artists playing the conservative side as fools while the liberals enslave the rest. Devout Russian Christians are on the march… not like the Communist Soviet Union, who spread wars like Obama and the US are doing now. These Russians are like disciples of Christ, who lovingly reach out to their brothers and sisters, helping men and women in darkness, enslaved by a materialistic society, who are truly in need of Christ."
The Pink Agenda
Xavier Lerma writes that the reason Western media are demonizing President Vladimir Putin in Russia, is because they have passed laws strengthening the penalties for "propagating homosexuality amongst minors, and for insulting peoples' religious convictions in public." The so-called Gay Propaganda Bill introduces fines for propaganda of non-traditional sexual relations to minors, including on the media, on the internet and via viral adverts. Under this new law, lesbian, gay, bisexual and transvestite (LGBT) rallies are prohibited, as is the distribution aimed at forming non-traditional sexual morality in children. Fines and imprisonment are prescribed for the propagation of homosexuality in Russia. The All Russia Public Opinion Centre in June showed that 88% of Russians support this amendment to the law.
Reversal of Roles
It is an incredible irony that religious freedom is under assault by the US Democratic Party and government while the Russian government is printing Bibles to place in hotel rooms! It is an incredible reversal of fortunes that the countries behind what used to be the Iron Curtain, now have some of the most dynamic Christian Churches and the highest percentage of Church attendance in Europe.
It would appear that Western decadence, immorality, materialism, compromise and superficiality in Churches and shallow, sensational entertainment, have been more deadly to the Church than virulent atheist propaganda and vicious communist persecution in the East. Today there are more Evangelical, born-again Christians in Russia than in any other country in Europe. The Ukraine has the second largest group of Evangelical Christians in Europe, followed by Romania. When Russians enjoy more religious freedom in public than Americans, then something is seriously wrong. When Russians expressed their concern about lack of freedom and spiritual discernment in America, we should be very concerned.
"Should you help the wicked and love those who hate the Lord? Because of this the wrath of the Lord is upon you." 2 Chronicles 19:2
Are Other Regions in Danger?
The question has been asked, with Russia annexing the Crimea, just how far does Russia's territorial ambitions extend? It is possible that Russia will attempt to integrate Moldova, which is on the Western border of Ukraine separating it from Romania. This would effectively surround the Ukraine. There already is a Russian military presence in the Trans-Dniester region of Moldova.
In 2008, Russian troops invaded two provinces of Georgia to defend the safety of ethnic Russians in South Ossetia and Abkhazia. The West threatened sanctions. Instead Russian troops remain in both regions and sanctions were never put into place.
Kazakhstan is an oil-rich country in central Asia. It has a huge population of ethnic Russians which could prompt Russian intervention in at least the Northern regions of that country.
Belarus is strongly allied with Russia and 1.2 million Russians live in Belarus (11% of the country's population). As Belarus is already an ally of Russia, it is unlikely that Russia would see the need to move on that country at all.
What About the Baltic States?
None of these countries are members of NATO. Speculation that Vladimir Putin could target the
Baltic States seems unwarranted as each of them are members of NATO and contain only minorities of Russians. Estonia has 25% Russians, Latvia has 27% Russians and Lithuania, less than 6% Russians. However, in the Crimea, Russians are 1.5 million of the total 2.2 million population. Crimea is considered absolutely essential to Russia's security, whereas the Baltic States are not.
Pray for the Christians in Russia and Ukraine
"Finally, brethren, pray for us, that the Word of the Lord may run swiftly and be glorified, just as it is with you, and that we may be delivered from unreasonable and wicked men; for not all have faith." 2 Thessalonians 3:1-2
Dr. Peter Hammond