Displaying items by tag: Europe
Military Ministries International (MMI) are in various continents including Europe. In Ukraine they have been busy serving soldiers, military widows, and military families by providing daily internet prayer and Bible study times to different groups. There are several meetings with large numbers of soldiers for evangelism. MMI received food produce at the logistics centres and then distributed it to soldiers and widows. They were able to include a large group of military widows in the UN humanitarian programme this summer. A young American volunteer was baptised recently by an MMI pastor who sends a word of encouragement from the Bible individually to a few hundred people (mostly soldiers) and coordinates the ministry of the MMI chaplains. A very great encouragement for chaplains is the international daily MMI prayer through Zoom, which has been held since the war began. MMI requests prayer for God to give strength, wisdom and unity to all the military.
Giorgia Meloni, the favourite to become Italy’s next prime minister, has a passion for fantasy author Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings. She regards the legends of the rings of power as much more than fantasy. They inspire her worldview and politics. When she was elected to cabinet in 2008 she vowed not to be corrupted by the ‘ring of power’. Later she posed for a magazine profile next to a statue of Gandalf, Tolkien’s bearded wizard. The hobbits’ attachment to their pristine Shire has been regarded as a rallying call for nationalism and rejection of modernism by generations of post-fascist youths. Although Meloni resents being linked to Italy's fascist past, her Brothers of Italy party embraces a slogan adopted by the fascists – ‘God, fatherland and family’. See also
On 29 September a fourth leak was found on the Nord Stream gas pipelines, amid sabotage allegations that the two underwater pipelines running from Russia to Germany had been damaged by explosions recorded in the Baltic Sea. Russia and the West have traded blame over the mysterious leaks. The sea surface is bubbling up as gas escapes. While the pipelines were not operational during the alleged sabotage, they still contained natural gas. The incident raises fears of an environmental disaster. According to experts, the leaking methane will be the biggest burst of the potent greenhouse gas on record. ‘Whoever ordered this should be prosecuted for war crimes and go to jail’, said a university climate scientist.
Five British nationals captured by Russian-backed forces in Ukraine have returned to the UK. Aiden Aslin, John Harding, Dylan Healy, Andrew Hill, and Shaun Pinner have been reunited with their families after landing at Heathrow Airport. Ten detainees, including the five Britons, were released after Saudi Arabia brokered an exchange between Russia and Ukraine. The Praesidium Network confirmed the five men are now safely home. Mr Pinner's sister Cassandra told the BBC: ‘We are just so happy he's home, safe and sound. He's in good spirits - just as funny as always!’ She thanked those involved in organising his return and said she was ‘just amazed this day has come’. In a video recorded on the plane, Mr Pinner said they had escaped ‘by the skin of our teeth’.
On 24 August a total of 33 cargo ships carrying 719,549 tons of foodstuffs left Ukraine, under a deal brokered by the UN and Turkey. Although the pace of exports has risen in September, volumes are well below last season’s levels. Ukraine also has a rail link to Moldova that could be used to carry ten million tons of freight a year. See On 2 September American media reported that Ukraine says Russia is using cargo ships to ferry weapons to the Black Sea. Kyiv has asked Turkey to block passage of sanctioned vessels making journeys from Syria through straits controlled by Ankara. See also the world article on the Horn of Africa.
Vladimir Putin delayed his TV address to Russia to be urgently treated for 'chest pains'. The eventual speech the next day warned of Russia’s use of nuclear weapons and mobilising troops. The delayed broadcast allegedly happened only because doctors had urgently treated him. Comments surrounding his health have intensified in recent months. Russia’s General SVR Telegram channel routinely claims that 69-year-old Putin suffers from illnesses such as cancer or Parkinson’s disease. His mental and physical wellbeing have been in sharp focus since he invaded Ukraine. In the delayed announcement he ranted about purging Ukraine of ‘neo-Nazis’ and wanted referendums in occupied regions. But for thousands of Russians watching TV at home, the most notably worrying elements of the broadcast was the ordering of 300,000 army reservists into battle and preventing 25 million reservists from fleeing Russia. This news has shocked and alarmed even his closest confidants.
The Russians have fled vital supply hub cities, saying they have withdrawn ‘to regroup’ and ‘bolster efforts’ on the Donetsk front. Social media images reveal a chaotic retreat. Tanks, armoured vehicles, weapons and ammunition were abandoned on the roadside, proving Ukraine's army can reclaim Russian-occupied territory. As well as gaining ground in the east, Ukraine is making gains in the south, causing Russian forces to dig into defensive positions.Putin, within Russia, enjoys a reputation of being invincible. After these embarrassing defeats, and having to ask other countries for weapons, his aura of invincibility is fading. It has not ended well for past Russian leaders who fought wars and didn't win them. Putin rarely admits to making mistakes or U-turns. After failing to hold Ukraine's cities, on 15 September he took revenge by bombing a reservoir. President Zelensky said, ‘You are weaklings who fight civilians; the reservoir had no military value at all’.
Russia’s media have changed tack during the war: denying an invasion would happen, then talking of a ‘special operation’ not an invasion, to praising ‘righteous denazification of Ukraine’. On 5 September pro-Russian bloggers and outlets played down Ukraine’s advance, but the next day there was a more sullen tone from journalists. ‘Don’t expect good news today,’ one source warned. Igor Girkin, who on his popular TV channel analyses troop movement, using open sources and informers on the ground, said, ‘I don’t expect any major success from Russia's army for the next 2-3 months. It will only be possible if the Kremlin stops flying on blue clouds around the planet of pink ponies, and finds the strength to face the truth and start fighting for real.’ Girkin compared the situation to the Russo-Japanese war over Manchuria which humiliated the Russian Empire in 1905.
Over a hundred Armenian soldiers are dead after border clashes with Azerbaijan ,which lost fifty of its troops in the worst fighting since 2020. Armenia appealed to world leaders for help after Azerbaijan began advancing on its territory. The conflict between the former Soviet republics is over the contested Nagorno-Karabakh region, which is Azerbaijani territory but populated with ethnic Armenians. Azerbaijan states that ethnic Armenians are illegally occupying its land. 30,000 people died in a 1991 conflict following the collapse of the Soviet Union, and ethnic Armenian separatists broke away from Azerbaijan. The six-week war in 2020 killed 6,500 people and ended with a Russian-brokered truce; Armenia cedied swaths of territory it had controlled for decades. Armenians are mostly Christian with military ties to Russia, while Azerbaijan is a Muslim country with ties to Turkey. On 14 September Armenia said a truce had been agreed but there was no confirmation from Azerbaijan. See
Russia's gas pipeline to Europe did not reopen, as promised, on 3 September. Gazprom said it could close indefinitely. This is no coincidence. Russia's state-controlled gas giant announced the indefinite halt to gas flows through Europe’s key energy artery hours after leading western finance ministers escalated sanctions on Russian oil. Gazprom's official reason is that an oil leak has been found and the pipeline cannot work without German imports of technology, which are now subject to sanctions. Many believe this is an attempt to blackmail Europe over supplies. This is a very serious development. Even during the height of the Cold War, Russia kept supplies of its gas flowing into Europe. However, this cut-off - and the pointed attempt by Gazprom to blame the German energy giant Siemens for the malfunction - is the culmination of decades of dysfunction in the energy relationship between the two countries.