Displaying items by tag: Russia
Narendra Modi, India's prime minister, has called for the Ukraine war to end. He warned that geopolitical struggles could ‘lead to humanitarian crises’. In a thinly veiled swipe at the Russian president, he said, ‘Our era need not be one of war. Indeed, it must not be one!’ The comments echoed his previous criticism of Mr Putin in September. India has abstained from condemning Moscow’s actions in Ukraine at the UN as the government balances its ties with Russia and the West, but has shifted its stance as the war intensifies and energy and food shortages pose greater global threats. Mr Modi said the world’s greatest challenges ‘can be solved not by fighting each other, but only by acting together’. India hosts the next G20 summit, whose theme is One Earth, One Family, One Future.
The Russian invasion of Ukraine, a major exporter of grain, led to the blocking of all grain shipments until an agreement called the Black Sea Grain Initiative was signed in Istanbul between Ukraine, Russia and the UN. This agreement will expire on 19 November unless renewed. Renewal negotiations were being facilitated by the UN throughout October until the 29th, when a drone attack on Russian naval ships prompted Russia to suspend participation. Talks resumed on 2 November, with hopes to extend the agreement for a year. On 17 November Ukraine’s minister of infrastructure said the initiative would be prolonged, but only for 120 days.
Russia has ordered its military to pull out of Kherson, the only regional capital it has captured since invading Ukraine. Russia will entirely leave the western bank of Dnipro River, saying it wasn’t possible to continue supplying the city. Ukraine's president Volodymyr Zelensky said his country is moving ‘very carefully’ in response to the announcement, fearing a Russian trap.
1,500+ new graves have been dug at a mass burial site near Mariupol in Ukraine. Over 4,600 graves have been dug there since the beginning of the war. Officials believe at least 25,000 people were killed in fighting there, and 5,000-7,000 died after their homes were bombed. Witnesses have seen Russian authorities removing bodies from destroyed buildings and taking them away for burial, over 1,500 according to new satellite images. From the start of the war Mariupol, a strategic target, was pounded relentlessly from the air and from the ground. Pray for the thousands of survivors who have now escaped the city, but do not know where their families’ bodies are. Pray for those unable to get that information, and pray for those who suspect their loved ones are still buried beneath the rubble of their houses.
Russia’s war waged against Ukraine has created devastating consequences for freedom of the press. Reporters have been killed and injured in the field and censorship not seen since the Soviet period’s massive disinformation. Five journalists and media workers died from gunfire during the first month of Russia’s offensive. The Russian military has targeted news sources in territories it occupies and bullies the local media to cooperate. The government has complete control of Russian news and extensive wartime censorship, blocking the media, and pursuing non-compliant journalists. Many are forced into exile. In 2021 Putin toughened the law, labelling the media as ‘foreign agents’. This information control does not stop at Russia’s borders. The Kremlin is imposing its version of the war on its neighbours, especially Belarus, where independent journalists have been persecuted since the 2020 controversial presidential election, and 20+ media workers languish in prison. (Globally 59 journalists were killed and 524 imprisoned this year).
The Americans, French, and British agree that ‘kamikaze’ drones unleashed by Russia into Ukraine were made in Iran and violate a UN security council resolution barring Iranian transfers of certain military technologies. Ukraine has identified the drones - or unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) - as Iranian Shahed-136 weapons, called kamikaze drones after the Japanese fighter pilots who flew suicide missions in World War Two. Iran denies supplying weapons to Russia, but the USA said, ‘Russia's plan is to import hundreds of Iranian UAVs of various types. There is extensive proof of Russia using them in Ukraine. The deepening alliance between Russia and Iran is something the whole world should see as a threat. Russia and Iran provided key military support for President Bashar al-Assad in the Syrian civil war.’ The EU's foreign policy chief said it is ‘gathering evidence’ on the Iranian drones and is ready to act - implying intensification of sanctions.
When the leader of the Russian Orthodox Church is the most vocal supporter of Moscow's conflict in Ukraine, calling the conflict ‘war’ can land you in jail; it takes courage to speak out. But Father Grigory has been doing that ever since the Kremlin first set its sights on Ukraine. Once a Russian Orthodox priest, he has now set out to prove that not every Russian stands behind Putin's acts of aggression. Grigory's number one priority is helping the hundreds of thousands of Ukrainian refugees trapped across Russia since February. His religious group, the Russian Apostolic Church, has assisted 7,000 refugees over the past eight months. He said, ‘In April our organisation and the St Petersburg parish opened a centre for helping refugees. Many refugees need different types of help. Some need tickets to leave Russia, some need clothes or various medicines. So we do all that we can do to help.’ Grigory is adamant that supporting an aggressive war goes against the tenets of true faith.
Russians are closing evangelical Protestant churches claiming ‘only one faith would be tolerated - Orthodoxy’. They raided Grace Baptist Church while a worship service was being broadcast live. Viewers watched online while they halted the service, registered the names of all present, detained several ministers, and gave the pastor 48 hours to leave the city. They closed Melitopol’s largest Protestant charismatic church with a 1,000-seat auditorium. They tore down its cross and turned the building into a ‘cultural sports entertainment complex’. They are doing the same as they did when they seized and annexed Crimea: they raided places of worship, closed churches, banned missionary activity, fined people for leading worship meetings, seized religious literature, and forced religious communities to re-register with the state, refusing re-registration to the majority. Christians were also driven to the underground churches in the Soviet era, surviving seventy years of Soviet totalitarian rule - demonstrating that persecution can often strengthen the Church.
On 10 October Russian troops began launching a daily series of missile strikes, targeting civilians and energy facilities in populated regions to kill and create chaos. President Volodymyr Zelensky said, ‘They want to destroy our energy system. They are incorrigible. The second target is people. Such a time and such goals were specially chosen to cause as much damage as possible. We are dealing with terrorists trying to wipe us off the face of the earth.’ On 13 October Ukraine’s allies from fifty countries meeting at NATO headquarters announced deliveries to Kyiv of advanced air defence weapons, including missiles and radars. The USA earlier made a similar pledge. One high-tech system from Germany is already in Ukraine. Kyiv hailed the summit as ‘historic’. Hours later, while people slept, Russian shelling hit a five-storey residential building in Mykolaiv, destroying the upper two floors.
The withdrawal of Russian troops from important Ukraine towns has prompted two powerful Putin allies publicly to ridicule the war machine's top brass. Chechnya leader Ramzan Kadyrov said, ‘Nepotism in the army will lead to no good. The commander of Russian forces should be stripped of his medals and sent to the front line with a gun to wash away his shame with blood.’ Such public contempt for those running Russia's war indicates the growing level of frustration among Putin’s elite with his war tactics. The powerful mercenary Yevgeny Prigozhin congratulated Ramzan’s comments, saying, ‘Ramzan - you rock man! All these ******** should be sent barefoot to the front with automatic guns.’