Ukraine War. What we are not being told.
Extract from a series of articles on the war, on both sides, in our paper and digital edition due out 1st week of June.. Subscribe
“What can I say? Do you remember that documentary that came out a decade or two ago about an idiot who went to live on friendly terms with some bears and ended up getting mauled to death? I watched a documentary about the reaction of the idiot’s friends to his grim end. And what struck me was their adolescent horror that a bear acted like a bear. They were disillusioned to the point of comedy. And that was just how the media and our politicians, I will not call them diplomatists or statesmen, reacted to the predictable Russian invasion. Biden especially looked like a hysterical schoolboy, and you could tell Ursula von der Leyden was milking the feelgood of sanctimony for every driblet of warmth it could proffer. I knew that I could not get to the bottom of anything by watching all this. It is no easy matter for the average person to verify anything. I was not about to rely on activists, politicians and specialists who often have financial, armaments, and political interests in the subject. Should I read the news of some neutral country? The Times of India maybe? Madagascar?”
Mark Mantel was born in St Petersburg to a Russian mother and Ukrainian father. He left the old country with his parents, as a boy, but has travelled back a few dozen times since the communist crumble. The war between the nations has torn his own heart,but he has thus far avoided psychotherapy and antidepressants.
Could not be easier. Biden just has to publicly announce that Ukraine will not be part of NATO. (Assuming you can believe Biden – which is a huge stretch.)
Wanted most: how to persuade Putin to stop the devastation.
Unconditional surrender in the Donbas would help considerably. Instead, NATO sends in vast arms shipments guaranteed to prolong and intensify the fighting, cost more lives on both sides and leave infrastructure completely shattered.
NATO should step in and help in self-defense for Ukraine as anyone capable should help a victim in self-defense against a crime. Russians respect only power. If you surrender something they will come back for more later. As it was with Crimea, now we see consequences.
Respectfully, Russia is responding to the fifth waive of NATO expansion along its immediate borders. This is after universal assurances by all western powers that Nato would not expand “one inch” into the territory of the former Soviet Union. It is also after years of Russian protests and the absolute understanding that expansion into the Ukraine would be a reckless and unthinkable provocation. NATO crossed that line knowing fully the exact result. And now we sit back after this senseless provocation and claim Russia is the aggressor? It would be like somebody calling Mike Tyson’s girlfriend a strumpet and then being utterly perplexed why on earth he suddenly has a black eye! Yes, Tyson is a beast, but if he’s sitting there minding his own business and is insulted perhaps some blame falls on the unfortunate imbecile who ventured to antagonize the brute.
Better a Russian land corridor to the Black Sea than nuclear war. But would Putin or Zelensky settle for it?
Why to you parrot this blatant lie concocted by Russian propaganda? It is resolutely not true that there were any “universal assurances by all western powers that Nato would not expand “one inch” into the territory of the former Soviet Union”.
And btw, it is not even true that NATO expanded “into the territory of the former Soviet Union” – with the sole exception of the Baltic countries, whose annexation by the USSR had never been recognised by the US in the first place.
For a start, the schismatic “Orthodox Church of Ukraine” ought to repent of its uncanonical “autocephaly” and return to its allegiance to the Patriarchate of Moscow. That would deprive Patriarch Kyrill of his excuse for supporting the war, and public opinion in Russia would be swayed accordingly. You and I may think that this is a trivial issue, but it’s not our opinion that matters: to Russian Orthodox believers schism is a monstrous crime.
It would also help if Zelensky publicly repudiated his support for the neo-Nazi gang of thugs known as the “Azov Battalion”. This would make Putin’s claim to be fighting Nazis less truthful. Zelensky could also stop boasting about his arming of civilians, which amounts to a justification for Russian war crimes against civilians.
Best of all, Zelensky could resign and be replaced by somebody less media-friendly but also less clownishly intransigent.
Probably none of these things will happen, because we live in a world gone mad.
PJR, correct me if I am wrong, but Orthodoxy recognises national difference. Kyrill has a moral obligation as a Christian leader to seek a peaceful outcome, not the mass-death of Ukrainians and Russians, even if there is a Heaven after death. As for the Azov battalion, both Russians and Ukrainians and other national groups fought with the Germans in WW2 against the Stalin regime.
My feelings on Putin are much the same as Taki’s in the US “Chronicles” May 2022, but what people think about Zelensky or Putin as characters is only one aspect of solving the problem.
No, Orthodoxy doesn’t recognise national differences or boundaries when deciding whether or not to grant autocephaly (or “independence”) to a group of dioceses. (“In Christ there is neither Jew nor Greek.”) Autocephaly is based on liturgical and spiritual tradition, not on worldly factors.
In any case, the grant of autocephaly has to come from the parent church, not from public opinion, secret ballot, Western pressure, or even interference by that arch-meddler, Patriarch Bartholomew of Constantinople. If the Patriarch of Moscow doesn’t acknowledge the autocephaly of the “Orthodox Church of Ukraine”, it isn’t autocephalous but schismatic.
I completely agree with you that Patriarch Kyrill ought not to be supporting Putin’s invasion, which is why I said that he ought to be deprived of his only plausible excuse for doing so.