Displaying items by tag: Europe

Friday, 24 March 2023 06:12

Russia: Religious war

Russia is under the microscope for atrocities committed since the start of its war with Ukraine, from the killing and torture of religious leaders to the destruction of houses of worship. One Russian official even used the term ‘desatanization’ to describe the plan to cleanse the nation of many religious groups. Muslim Tatars in Crimea are repressed by Russian authorities, and many sentenced to long prison terms for principled opposition to the occupation. Russian forces attacking Ukraine have desecrated Holocaust remembrance sites and killed Holocaust survivors. It's not just Ukraine. Since the invasion, Moscow has been tightening its grip inside Russia on religious groups. 30% of Russian Jews have fled Russia since the war began with 50,000 emigrating to Israel. In Russia's occupied territories, the Russian military has bombed churches, monasteries, kingdom halls, mosques, synagogues, cemeteries, and other religious sites, and Russian soldiers have abducted and tortured religious figures because of their leadership roles.

Published in Europe
Friday, 24 March 2023 06:12

Polish fighter jets for Ukraine

Poland announced that it’ll supply Kyiv with MiG-29 fighter jets, the first NATO member to do so. For months President Zelensky has implored America and Europe for warplanes to fight Russia. However, NATO allies have been slow-walking him because that might push the Russians to escalate on the battlefield. Yet the Soviet-era MiGs, of which Ukraine has a few dozen relics, are hardly the modern warplanes Zelensky wants and needs, and they’re no match for Russia’s Su-27s. The Sukhoi Su-27, NATO Codename ‘Flanker’, is a flying Missile Battery. Some believe Poland's action will encourage other NATO countries to follow suit and rethink on sending Ukraine high-tech warplanes. That's exactly what happened weeks ago with heavy tanks when the US and Germany changed their mind.

Published in Europe
Friday, 24 March 2023 06:06

Global: Water Conference

From France to Zimbabwe and America to Chile, water shortages drive social and political conflicts. Rich countries can’t ignore it as a poor country's problem. So, between March 22 -24 the UN held its first water conference in 50 years. 6,500 policymakers, NGOs, water experts, and private sector groups attended the wake-up call to action. Water supply and demand is expected to reach 40% in eight years, making life as we know it virtually impossible for millions, possibly billions, of people. Governments and companies were asked to make ambitious commitments to form a ‘Water Action Agenda’. Progress on pledges and targets will be monitored over time, with the hope of significantly reducing the supply-demand gap by 2030. Pray for governments to upgrade ageing infrastructures, effectively fix system leaks, and improve tracking and billing capacities. Pray for the provision of incentives to ramp up research on water stress, and wastewater treatment solutions and develop new technologies.

Published in Worldwide
Friday, 17 March 2023 05:05

Russia: Wagner and FSB

Wagner is giving ‘career talks’ in Russian schools to recruit young soldiers. Wagner, Putin’s private army distributed questionnaires entitled ‘Application of a Young Warrior’ to collect pupils' details. Moscow attempted to win the Bakhmut conflict with a ‘human wave’ of battalions of convicts, followed by elite Wagner troops. Half are now dead. This initiative will not replace the convict recruit pipeline. Wagner made slow gains at an immense cost. Pray for the ‘career talks’ to fall on deaf ears as adults to protect vulnerable teenagers. Meanwhile on 16th March a short circuit appeared to have caused a fire, which ignited fuel tanks in a building used by Russia's Federal Security Service (FSB). The FSB is Russia's internal security service, responsible for counterintelligence, border security and counter-terrorism. There has been a spate of arson attacks on government buildings, such as enlistment and conscription offices since the February 2022 invasion of Ukraine.

Published in Europe

The international criminal court in The Hague will seek arrest warrants against Russian individuals over war crimes. The arrest warrants come a year after the prosecutor opened investigations into possible war crimes against humanity and genocide. He has made three trips to Ukraine sites of alleged violations. Putin’s spokesperson said, ‘We do not recognise this court; or its jurisdiction.’ Russia left the leading human rights watchdog, Council of Europe, and threatened to withdraw from the World Trade Organization and the World Health Organization, thereby deepening the country’s isolation from the west.

Published in Europe

Dame Deborah Bronnert, Britain's ambassador to Moscow, ran a gauntlet of loud-mouthed propagandists following her down the street shouting repeatedly, ‘You are not welcome here,' and ‘Britain sponsors terrorism.' She told the protesters, ‘We want peace,' and tried to continue speaking but was cut off and told repeatedly that Britain sponsored terrorism. She reiterated, ‘Russia must stop the war.’ Reports say she had no official meetings with the pro-war authorities in Vladivostok, but was hauled into their foreign ministry and forced to walk through what appeared to be stage-managed propagandists. Russia has increased rhetoric against the UK as its Ukraine invasion falters.  Western officials say the wild claims are a distraction tactic. Moscow protests are rare and quickly crushed by police - suggesting this protest had tacit support from authorities.

Published in Europe
Friday, 10 March 2023 03:58

France: Strikes

A general strike is causing cancellations to flight, ferry and rail services plus disruption on the roads, over plans to raise the pension age from 62 to 64. 9th March was the seventh day of walkouts since the new year with more action expected to cause further upheaval in the coming days. President Macron’s proposals to increase the number of years of work required to claim a full pension are being debated in the French senate. President Macron is severely undermined on the domestic front as his centrist grouping failed to win a majority in parliamentary elections last June amid gains for the far right and radical left. Without a majority, the government must rely on the right-wing Les Républicains to back pensions changes, but their senators and lawmakers are pressing for alterations. Macron has not met with the Unions. Several unions have called for rolling cross-sector strike action. Next strike is 11th March. See

Published in Europe
Thursday, 02 March 2023 20:19

Prayer summit - a special moment

Ukraine was very much on everyone’s hearts, and some Ukrainian sisters and young Russian brothers came to the conference. It was not an easy situation for them, a Ukrainian sister expressed the deep wounds and pain caused to Ukrainians through the losses they are suffering day in and day out, by Russians. Then a young Russian Christian who helps drug addicts and social fringe groups testified how his fellow ministry leaders had suffered persecution after scrutiny by Russian authorities. In their own ways, both sides were ‘victims’ of the same autocratic state, and their pain was palpable. We prayerfully surrounded them, and during our intercessions, they were eventually able to reach out and embrace one another. It was deeply moving to witness these tentative steps of reconciliation between Ukrainian and Russian Christians. Reconciliation at the cross is a powerful weapon against the ‘real enemy’. Our struggle is not with flesh and blood but against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.

Published in Europe
Thursday, 02 March 2023 20:15

Europe: migrants shipwrecked

Over 100 migrants died and 80 were recovered alive after their overloaded boat of 200+ people sank in rough seas off southern Italy. It was trying to land near Crotone. 43 bodies were recovered from a nearby beach resort. The migrants were from Iran, Iraq, Syria, Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Somalia. Large numbers of people fleeing conflict and poverty cross from Africa to Italy each year. Italy’s prime minister Giorgia Meloni, who pledged to stem the migrant flow into Italy, expressed deep sorrow, blaming the deaths on traffickers. One survivor was arrested for migrant trafficking. Pope Francis, who often defends the rights of migrants, has said he is praying for the dead, the missing and those who survived. Sadly, 15 days earlier, 73 migrants went missing and were presumed dead after their boat sank off the Libyan coast in a boat en route to Europe on the world's deadliest migratory sea crossing.

Published in Europe
Thursday, 23 February 2023 22:00

Russia / Ukraine: day 365 of the invasion

Pray for the women in Ukraine. Twelve months after Russia invaded the country, they are increasingly vulnerable to sexual violence with reports of abuse on the rise, according to a leading humanitarian organisation in the country. Women fleeing from bombed houses and their hometowns are reporting attacks occurring in the home and in communal shelters. UN secretary general Antonio Guterres condemned Russia’s invasion of Ukraine as ‘an affront to our collective conscience’, saying Friday’s anniversary is ‘a grim milestone for the Ukrainians. Pray for the UN to make wise decisions regarding Ukraine, ammunition and war machines. Joe Biden vowed that the US would defend ‘literally every inch of NATO territory’ ahead of talks with NATO’s secretary general and leaders of the Bucharest Nine (B9), a collection of nations on the most eastern parts of the NATO alliance and closest to Russia. Pray for aggressive talk to end and peace talks to begin.

Published in Europe
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