March 03, 2014

Ukraine Crisis: Answers to 7 Key Questions

Are you familiar with key questions regarding the unfolding events in what has been dubbed "the Ukraine crisis" by many? My background as a missionary for 10 years in Kyiv and Simferopol Ukraine helps me to offer a perspective with regard to both eastern and western views. I don't wish to support or promote one particular political side of this issue, but, rather, to simply raise important questions and provide possible answers from a Christian perspective.

After an interim caretaker government had been installed in the capital of Kyiv,  it was noted that ousted President Yanukovych claims he is still the official president of Ukraine, though he is presently in Russia. Russia has taken control of Crimea, so far without firing a shot. And there are signs that the aggression will continue unabated. Interim prime minister, Arseny Yatseniuk has stepped up the rhetoric, claiming that the announcement to invade Ukraine made by Russia's Vladimir Putin was not a threat, but "the declaration of war to my country".

Across the globe, Obama has threatened "costly" economic sanctions and isolationism against Russia as the Commander in Chief is presented in a Washington photo op on the phone wearing rugged Reaganesque blue jeans and a denim shirt. It seems that there are dramatic new developments in Ukraine news on a daily basis. But some of the underlying questions remain consistently important and poignant. Addressing these issues can help to shed some light on the situation.

1. The Ousting of Yanukovych: Was the overthrow and ouster of President Yanukovych in Kyiv valid, even though  the once "peaceful protests" eventually turned violent against the Yanukovych authorities and visa versa?

2. The Ethics of Military Invasions: Was Russia justified in its military invasion of Crimea? And would a military attack against Russian forces by Ukraine and other countries be justified in response?

3. Threats of Economic Sanctions and Isolationism from the West: Are threats against Russia by the West regarding economic sanctions and isolationism really an acceptable and adequate response to Russia's aggression?

4. Ukraine Joining the E.U.: Will joining the E.U. and assuming IMF loans and Greek-style austerity measures ultimately improve the situation for the average Ukrainian? What are the alternatives?

5. A Boxer, a Banker and a Fascist Caretaker: Are a veteran boxer, an international banker and a Hitler-emulating fascist really the best possible types of interim candidates for guiding Ukraine into the future?

6. Embedded Corruption in Ukraine: If embedded status-quo corruption in Ukraine (and any country) is not seriously addressed by new leaders, does it really matter who the official leaders will be?

7 Biblical Prophecy and Ukraine: Do present events in Ukraine signify the fulfillment end-time prophecies? If so, which ones?

Possible Considerations and Answers

1.  The Ousting of Yanukovych: Swiss and Austrian banks have frozen bank accounts of Victor Yanukovych, and up to 19 former officials face the same treatment. The claim is that most of the funds were assets stolen from the Ukrainian people. Though he seemed quite corrupt, and though civilians were killed at EuroMaidan, some people still question the legality and validity of Yanukovych's ouster, especially in light of the comparative political corruption evident in the West.

While most people recognize passive non-violent protests as a valid political approach to change, some do not. On top of that, many of the EuroMaidan protestors did use violence against the police. Both Gandhi  and Martin Luther King claimed that they based their non-violent approach to justice to some extent on the teachings of Jesus Christ. But because the protesters in Kyiv turned violent against the government, does this invalidate the eventual ouster of Yanukovych? And does this violate Romans 13, calling for Christians to "be subject to the governing authorities," as many Christians understand it? This is a subject unto itself, as addressed by the body of scripture.

According to Yanukovych and Putin, the Maidan overthrow was not legally valid. According to the E.U. and the U.S., however, it was legally acceptable and valid. Paul Craig Roberts reported on how the EuroMaidan protests were financed by the U.S. and E.U. governments. Protesters attested that they received from 200-300 grivna per day (about $20. to $30.). To further complicate matters, Washington's Blog notes strong evidence that the same snipers killed both activists and police, people on both sides of the conflict. This implies that someone orchestrated a false flag operation, but it is not clear who.

A contextual question arises as well.  Does the U.S. actually permit expressive protests at home or is the U.S. government in reality intolerant of such? In U.S. news this week, we find the following subject: "Government Defends Ban on Protests in Supreme Court Plaza." Consider the "free speech zones" often required by U.S. authorities since the Bush administration. And, on a local level, consider the answer offered by N.Y. Mayor Bloomberg's office regarding banned and evicted Occupy Wall Street protesters who were peacefully protesting in New York: "The First amendment protects speech - it does not protect the use of tents and sleeping bags to take over a public space." In short, offering the opposite attitude towards protests at home versus protests abroad seems a bit hypocritical on the part of U.S. politicians.
 
If the U.S. an d E.U. did indeed finance the protests that included fascist and violent elements determined on regime change, including people lobbing Molotov cocktails and other violence, it seems that these parties are also partly culpable in their responsibility for the aftermath, the fact that many civilians were killed in the process.

2. The Ethics of Military Invasions: As was the case with Ossetia Georgia, Russia invaded Crimea under the pretext of bringing order and protecting its own nationals in Ukraine. However, the throwing of some rocks and bottles in a confrontation at the Simferopol Vehovnia Rada (supreme Counsel) hardly seems to justify such an invasion. Also, Russian troops failed to identify themselves and the authority behind their intervention. This seems a bit hypocritical considering that Putin called the Kyiv ouster of Yanokovich an illegitimate act of hooligans.

There are many aspects to consider regarding Russia's invasion. The concept of  "just war" was developed by two theists. This makes sense because, according to logic, there's an objective basis of ethics and morality only if God exists. In accordance with science alone and atheistic secularism, there is no such objective basis. The following seven points of just war theory were the result of work by both St. Augustine and Thomas Aquinas at different times over extended periods.
 
Principles of the Just War
 
1.  A just war can only be waged as a last resort. All non-violent options must be exhausted before the use of force can be justified.

2. A war is just only if it is waged by a legitimate authority. Even just causes cannot be served by actions taken by individuals or groups who do not constitute an authority sanctioned by whatever the society and outsiders to the society deem legitimate.

3. A just war can only be fought to redress a wrong suffered. For example, self-defense against an armed attack is always considered to be a just cause (although the justice of the cause is not sufficient--see point #4). Further, a just war can only be fought with "right" intentions: the only permissible objective of a just war is to redress the injury.

4. A war can only be just if it is fought with a reasonable chance of success. Deaths and injury incurred in a hopeless cause are not morally justifiable.

5. The ultimate goal of a just war is to re-establish peace. More specifically, the peace established after the war must be preferable to the peace that would have prevailed if the war had not been fought.

6. The violence used in the war must be proportional to the injury suffered. States are prohibited from using force not necessary to attain the limited objective of addressing the injury suffered.

7. The weapons used in war must discriminate between combatants and non-combatants. Civilians are never permissible targets of war, and every effort must be taken to avoid killing civilians. The deaths of civilians are justified only if they are unavoidable victims of a deliberate attack on a military target.

In considering the tenets of just war theory above, it seems that Russia could possibly be justified in some isolated points (4,6,7), but unjustified in others, which seem more critical (1-3).

In contrast to Russia's actions, we can look at President Obama's record and ask if his comments condemning Russia are justified, or if they are merely hypocritical indictments of a President who has been consistently destroying the basis of law and order of his own country.

For starters, one could point out that Obama has personally initiated two illegal U.S. wars without congressional approval (Libya and Pakistan) in violation of a U.S. law created as a result of the unapproved Vietnam War escalation. This is not to say the U.S. Congress is a beacon of justice. They approved Obama's horrific NDAA, allowing the U.S. government to arrest and imprison indefinitely any U.S. citizen without a trial. In this light, the outrage by U.S. officials  over Yulia Tymoshenko's trial and imprisonment does not seem to be very justified. Obama's drones that have been killing innocent civilians are not supported by just war theory. And Obama's exoneration of Bush, Cheney and Rumsfeld of war torture, war profiteering and other crimes also helped to devalue U.S. political clout on an international scale. If you have the stomach to take it in, read an article by The New Yorker on "Torture at Abu Ghraib" or you can check out the documentary "Taxi to the Dark Side" at your local library (The Southampton, NY library has it.)
 
3. Threats of Economic Sanctions and Isolationism from the West: President Obama and other western politicians have threatened economic sanctions and isolationism as a response to the military takeover of Crimea. The fact is, however, alignment with the U.S. is becoming less relevant globally. America has become all but de-industrialized as a producer, thanks to a large extent to Bill Clinton's granting of favored nation status to China, which created an unfair trade environment for U.S. factory workers. Bill Clinton has been described as, "The Outsourcer in Chief" because of his failed economic projections and false rhetoric: Clinton proposed that China "now support hundreds of thousands of American jobs" and "these figures can grow substantially."

While no one can deny the fact that China has become a surpassing producer, China and other Asian countries are also becoming consummate consumers. China is now the second biggest consumer nation in the world and this detracts from the relevance of lost western consumerism. Now that China is officially agreeing with Putin's "appropriate" handling of Crimea and Ukraine, threats of isolationism by the West aren't as ominous. Japan and Syria have also expressed support of Russia.

Also, consider the BRICS currency movement that ignores the U.S. dollar as the global trading currency. It is the U.S., not Russia, that is in for severe economic hardship as the Federal Reserve will no longer be able to print and hand out U.S. dollars like Halloween candy into the global economy without seeing massive inflation at home. Forbes pointed out a recent partial audit of the Federal Reserve, which revealed $16 trillion in secret bailouts, many foreign!

In "Bhavan's Journal", the late Indian statesman and global political analyst, Dr. P.C. Alexander, emphasized the increasing power of Asia in the 21 Century:

"The only question that remains is whether the two giants of Asia, China and India, will demonstrate their strength and will to get out of their cages and fulfill the historic destiny which their size and resources give them to become the economic superpowers of the world. My surmise is that they will, and the 21st century will become the century Of Asia."


4. Ukraine Joining the EU:  Joining the E.U. means taking on IMF loans and bowing to Greek-style austerity laws. And many of the freedoms assumed to be associated with the EU are questionable. For example, The Brussels Journal points out, "Article ten in the European Convention on Human Rights supposedly ensures freedom of speech, yet spends more text on defining what is not included within the limits of free speech than on what is. Criminalizing ideas is dangerous. As John Stuart Mill explained in his book On Liberty, freedom of speech is the foundation of true liberty." It seems that the only two choices are joining the U.N. or somehow joining Russia. However, countries such as Iceland demonstrate that a country can become economically strong while remaining independent. And then there is the whole Babylon-Antichrist New World Order aspect of the E.U., which is another subject altogether.

5. A Boxer, a Banker and a Fascist Caretaker: Former prime minister, Yulia Tymoshenko was recently released from jail, quite dramatically in a wheel chair. She has declined to take on political responsibility. Other possible candidates for the interim Ukraine government were described in a leaked audio recording. The audio recording described by Reuters titled, "Puppets of Maidan" embarrassingly details an alleged conversation between Victoria Nuland and Ambassador Geoffrey Pyatt that they refused to deny. When boxer Vitaly Klitchko's name comes up with regard to political responsibility, the opinion is, "I don't think it's a good idea." The banker Arseniy “Yats” Yatsenyuk was described as the best front man. The U.S. authorities sensed some license to pull strings because, after all, the U.S. had helped the E.U. in funding the Maidan protests by paying protesters 200 grieven ($40.) a day, according to a report by Paul Craig Roberts.
According to Forbes, "Ukraine’s interim prime minister, Arseniy “Yats” Yatsenyuk,may prove to be arsenic to the beleaguered nation." The Forbes write up offers some reasons why a central banker doing the bidding of power-hungry international bankers is not such a great idea. As opposed to the U.S. model of lavishing favor and free bailouts upon corrupt bankers, Iceland actually jailed those who made extremely risky and unethical investment decisions and forgave the debts of struggling homeowners. Recently, the economy of Iceland has flourished with a minimal 4% unemployment rate, exceeding unemployment rates of both the E.U. and the U.S. today. The E.U. unemployment rate is at 12% and the U.S. unemployment rate is officially 6.6%, though the U-6 unemployment rate is about 13.1%, which includes the underemployed and those able to work but no longer seeking employment. Ukraine's present unemployment rate is 7.8%, though, obviously, the present Ukraine crisis will increase the figure.

After YuliaTymoshenko was released from prison, she thanked the "Right Sector" for their assistance in the victorious protests. The Right Sector "Pravy Sektor" is an umbrella organization for ultra-nationalist and fascist right wing groups. parties include Svoboda, Patriots of Ukraine, Ukrainian National Assembly and Trizub. According to Global Research, all these organizations share a common ideology that is vehemently anti-Russian, anti-immigrant, and anti-Jewish among other things." Svoboda honors Ukrainians who fought alongside Nazis against Soviet Communism. There is a photo ofSvoboda leader Oleh Tyahnybok giving the "Sieg Heil" hand gesture from the podium at one of his speeches.

In short, finding honest and bold leaders willing to address corruption may be a more important consideration than fulfilling puppet roles for global interests, whether for the East or West.
 
6. Embedded Corruption in Ukraine: For about 20 years of independence, Ukraine had the opportunity to elect presidents and officials who would address deep-seeded corruption. But none of them did.  The leaders have generally had a cautious, status-quo, self-serving attitude. Part of the problem, I believe, is the standard use of unelected local oligarch governors, people who gained massive wealth after the fall of the Soviet Union. This aspect of the Ukraine constitution seems to promulgate self-serving mafia rule. When I lived in Crimea, I noticed that the Ukraine president had a very uninterested attitude towards problems on the Crimean peninsula. For example, when Tatar people squatted on private farmland and took over private property, the reaction by Kyiv was to let the Crimean leaders handle the situation themselves. It is not surprising to me in this respect that Crimeans have viewed Russia's intervention there as a positive step towards bringing order and protection for citizens.


In contrast to Ukraine's self-perpetuating corruption, the Polish President, Lech Kaczynski, was very bold and ruthless in a "moral revolution" against corruption in Poland, and the result was an extremely prosperous period for the country. According to Reuters, "Lech Kaczynski's appeal was based on his image as an incorruptible politician who, unlike some post-communist leaders, never personally benefited from politics." This was true to his dying day, when he chose to fly an older aircraft to a controversial Russian-Polish war memorial.

Without a plan for addressing the status-quo corruption in Ukraine, it seems it won't matter much who will be at the reigns. Most people in Ukraine say it is "impossible" to address the corruption, but with God all things are possible. One cannot easily dismiss the fact that the Christian faith of former Polish President Lech Kaczynski was a key factor in his effectiveness  as president in combatting corruption. A spiritual leader or a spiritual awakening may be the only real long-term hope for restoring a sound and prosperous government in Ukraine.
 
7. Ukraine and Biblical Prophecy: There are some prophecies that may relate to the present situation in Ukraine. For example, countries referred to as Gog and Magog are described as being located north of Israel and they are also noted as being aggressors against Israel. The locations of these prophecies in scripture are Ezekiel and Revelation and they both relate to military actions.
 
The prophecy in Revelation 20 equates Gog and Magog with an amalgamated world government that goes to battle against Israel after the millennial reign of Christ: "And when the thousand years are expired, Satan shall be loosed out of his prison, And shall go out to deceive the nations which are in the four quarters of the earth, Gog and Magog, to gather them together to battle: the number of whom is as the sand of the sea."
 
The prophecy in Ezekiel 38 may refer to the same event described in Revelation 20, though, on the other hand, the time is not specified. There is little disagreement that the enemy from "out of the uttermost parts of the North" refers to present day Russian and possibly Ukrainian territory.  The fact that Kyiv has chosen an outspoken anti-Semitic fascist leader, Oleh Tyahnybok, to join in a new government, may hold significance.
 
Revelation 16.12 describes the empowered "Kings of the East" and, though this has many interpretations, many do see the continued strength of eastern countries as significant. Western threats of economic sanctions against Russia do not seem to be quite as threatening in this regard. Also of note, Daniel 2:31-33 describes kingdoms that will reign upon the earth. The final kingdom is described as one consisting of iron and clay. This seems to imply a disintegrating kingdom of strength and weakness. The weakness may relate to the increased illogical relativism embraced in society and it may also relate to increased corruption in the world. The situation in Ukraine raises the issue of financial corruption on a global scale and also highlights the moral relativism used to justify global opinions by virtue of relativistic consensus alone.
 
Conclusion
There are many factors at play in Ukraine at the moment. But from a Christian perspective it's not difficult to see some key principles that could be instituted at the present time to guide the country in the right direction. A famous quote by Adoniram Judson Gordon comes to mind:

You can do more than pray after you have prayed, but you cannot do more than pray until you have prayed.

The U.S. is facing a moral and political crisis of its own and, unfortunately, is no longer a beacon of leadership with regard to freedom, justice and democracy. Many U.S. citizens are completely unaware of the extreme rollback of democracy in the U.S. simply because they rely on status-quo mainstream news, which is generally pre-filtered and missing important news.

Because Ukraine is on the border of two world powers, the E.U. and Russia, there is a tendency to see Ukraine as a victim that must always rely on others for help and protection. Ultimately, however, we as individuals and nations in general have choices that can be made with respect to the truth of God's existence. The following could be considered a general maxim:

The closer a person or country follows the teachings of Jesus Christ, the more personal freedom, prosperity and happiness will generally be enjoined.

There are many times when Christians are persecuted and suffer loss. However, when compared on a level playing field, the above maxim is supported by both science and history. It would take a separate article to expound upon this. But there is one poignant example that stands out. Noted in a BBC article, quotes by Chinese businessmen outline how Christian workers are seen as more productive and preferable: "Weng-Jen Wau believes that by encouraging increasing numbers of his staff to convert to Christianity, his business will prosper."

This subject was highlighted in a post titled, "Scholar: China Notices Link Between Christianity, U.S. Economic Success" in which Dr. William Jeynes, senior fellow of The Witherspoon Institute in Princeton, N.J., remarked on the intense interest Chinese CEOs have had on the connection between U.S. prosperity and the Christian faith. The Chinese have chosen to accept and adopt certain Christian principles of hard work, honesty and sacrificial service while at the same time attempting to keep the bold lion of Christian liberties caged.

As far as Ukraine is concerned, and for people and countries all over the world, the best time to seek God and follow the truths of scripture is right now. We all have a choice to learn the facts and take a stand for truth and justice or to remain ignorant and look the other way when we learn about corruption and injustice.  Some Christians have been taught that "Christian activism" is an oxymoron, but it's not when properly understood. We as Christians can choose to be "salt and light" or we can choose to deny to live out the Christ-like nature God has granted us by his spirit. I welcome any comments on these points.

Tags: Christian perspective on Ukraine Crisis, 6 questions on Ukraine crisis, objective basis of political ethics, 7 points of Just war theory, Nuland Pyatt leaked recording, U.S. paid protesters at EuroMaidan, Unemployment rate of Ukraine, Iceland, U.S. Chinese CEOs ask of Christianity-businesses prosperity connection, China agrees with Putin on Ukraine

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