WHAT WILL PUTIN DO NEXT?

Vladimir Putin is in trouble. His unwarranted but massive invasion of Ukraine has been repudiated by all the world’s most repulsive governments and, more immediately, on the battlefield.

The liberation of Kherson from Russian occupation was a serious psychological blow for President Putin that has left him fearing for his life, a senior military adviser in President Zelensky’s office has said.

Last week’s surrender of Kherson, the only regional capital that Putin’s army had captured, triggered shock and despair among hardliners in Moscow, including state television presenters.

“[Putin] is very afraid because there is no forgiveness in Russia for tsars who lose wars,” Oleksiy Arestovich, an adviser to the Ukrainian president’s chief of staff, said. “He is fighting for his life now. If he loses the war, at least in the minds of the Russians, it means the end. The end of him as a political figure. And possibly in the physical sense.”

Vladimir Putin’s troops in Ukraine are being hampered by severe shortages of munitions and skilled personnel, British officials have said.

The Ministry of Defence said intense fire has been exchanged between Russian troops and Ukrainian forces around the Svatove sector in Luhansk Oblast in north-eastern Ukraine over the past week.

“As on other parts of the front, Russian forces continue to prioritise constructing defensive positions, almost certainly partially manned by poorly trained mobilized reservists,” said officials.

The recent defeat of Russian forces across a wide front has demonstrated the weakness of the Russian military and the ineptitude of its commanders.

Former US Army general Ben Hodges predicts failure in Ukraine could lead to the collapse of the Russian Federation.

Putin continues to boast about such weaponry as hypersonic missiles and Russia’s military held an international arms show in Moscow, and yet the Russian army is in near collapse. Military analyst George Barros reports that the “conventional ground army ground force that the Kremlin has spent the last two decades on creating … has been largely degraded and in a large part destroyed in the past six months of the war in Ukraine.”

Vladimir Putin is nothing if not proud of Mother Russia. A major reason for his invasion of Ukraine was his desire to restore some of what the defunct Soviet empire lost. His outrage at the botched invasion of a weaker power and what was, for Putin and his advisors, the apparently unanticipated military support Ukraine has received from the U.S. and our allies, has pushed Putin into a corner from which there is no clear path out.

So, what are his options? A mature leader would make an attempt at face-saving (“Russia let the world know we are a great power!”) and pull its army back into home territory. Yet a mature leader would never have invaded a peaceful neighbor and conducted brutal warfare against its people.

Putin could “pull a Hitler,” blame his generals and bring his soldiers home. Unlike the rantings of the Fuhrer, however, Putin would be partially correct. Neither Russian strategy nor tactics have been effective. The loss of as many as 4,000 armored vehicles means a severe depletion of Russia’s capacity to wage a successful war. That Russia’s top commanders so underestimated the resolve of Ukraine and the willingness of the NATO alliance to provide extensive and high-quality military aid to the Zelensky government indicates severe political miscalculation as well as defective military planning.

Yet Putin’s pride and what likely is irrational indignation probably will grip his better judgment. To admit defeat would be not only a concession of military weakness but also provide the West with yet another victory over Russia, this time in what is, in part, a test of NATO (and especially American) weaponry against Russian weaponry.

The most likely outcome is Russia’s doubling-down of its efforts to conquer Ukraine. The Ukrainian government reports that “after strikes on power plants plunged large areas of Ukraine into darkness”, “Russia (has) stepped up the number of ships and submarines in the Black Sea carrying its Kalibr cruise missiles.” This means more attacks on Ukrainian infrastructure and, probably, civilian targets. Since the Russian invasion began in February, 5,600 Ukrainian civilians have been killed and about 8,000 injured. In Putin’s probable calculus, a few (or many) thousand more shouldn’t be allowed to stand in the way of total victory.

How the West will respond if the conflict escalates, especially if Putin resorts to battlefield nuclear weapons (even if relatively small, their devastation would be profound and their long-term impact immeasurable), is hard to know. Christians need to pray that God would, through whatever means He chooses, soon bring peace to the battered people of a violated nation.

Ultimately, Vladimir Putin will face an unimaginably greater power than anything Ukraine, NATO, or anyone else can create. The psalmist warns “the kings of the earth” that God “will speak to them in His wrath, and terrify them in his fury” (2:5). How particularly true this will be for those whose grasp on power is crusted with the blood of the innocent. Like the current president of Russia.

Adapted from an article in The Washington Stand by Rob Schwarzwalder.

GOD AT WORK IN UKRAINE (PART 2)

Christians are living out Jesus’ teachings as Ukrainians flee invasion. A movement of love, generosity sweeps Poland as it opens arms to Ukrainians 

 More than 60% of the 110 Poland Baptist churches are responding to the needs of Ukrainian refugees.

CHELM, Poland — With little more than the clothes on their back, hundreds of Ukrainian women and children wait hours in line to cross into Poland as part of the largest movement of people in Europe since World War II. They shuffle their feet quietly, even apprehensively, toward an unknown future in an unfamiliar country.

They’re stunned when they arrive. Volunteers have taped Ukrainian flags in their car windows and signs in Ukrainian reading, “free rides to shelter.” The drivers take the refugees to the Baptist church in Chelm, only a few kilometers up the road where people from around the world — Poland, Latvia, England, the United States, to name a few — are offering a place of safety and security for a few hours, few days or as long as they need it.

Families sit in stunned silence in an impromptu reception area where church volunteers tell the refugees the church has free food, drinks, showers, and places to sleep. The congregation even has a set-up children’s area where they can play with bubbles or watch educational videos projected on a screen.

“What we’re seeing is a movement of love and generosity across this nation. Poles are opening their doors and arms to Ukrainians. They are taking them into their churches. They are taking them into their homes. They are feeding them. They are caring for them,” said Marek Glodek, president of the Baptist Union of Poland.

“This is what Jesus calls His believers to do all the time. Polish Christians are taking the teachings of Jesus seriously and living them out each day during this situation.”

More than 60% of the 110 Poland Baptist churches are responding to the needs of Ukrainian refugees, many of them in dramatic and radical ways.

At a warehouse in Chelm, donations for Ukrainians are coming in as fast as they are going out to Ukraine and to shelters across Poland. The deliveries continue even after Russia intensifies attacks on the western portion of Ukraine.

In north Poland, church members installed new insulation, air conditioning, heating, electrical lines and beds in an old summer camp to revitalize it to house refugees.

Near the Belarus border, a church is providing shelter for about 50 people and sending supplies into Ukraine despite increased Russian aggression. 

“More than 1.5 million Ukrainians have sought safety in Poland,” said Mickey Lenamon, TBM executive director and CEO. “Baptists worldwide have joined together to meet their needs. TBM is honored to be part of that, whether it is through funding, sorting and loading donations in-country, setting up beds, or even doing the little things that are needed like cleaning floors and toilets. We see what believers throughout the region are doing and are seeking to do likewise: follow Christ daily and share His love.”

GOD AT WORK IN THE UKRAINE (PART 1)

Miracles are taking place in Ukraine, despite the horror of war, according to the Deputy General Secretary of the Ukrainian Bible Society. Anatoliy Raychynets, who is based in the capital Kyiv, says more and more people are turning to Christianity to find light in the darkness since the Russian invasion began, and he says the power of God is preventing even worse devastation.

Day by day, women with small kids are running here outside our office in the streets to find the basement bombing room to hide themselves there. Many people are crying out to help them to get out of Kyiv.

Bibles bring comfort in the midst of devastation

“Many people haven’t eaten for 3 or 4 days. There are many elderly people living in apartments around my office who cannot go outside because of illness. They just sit inside waiting for a miracle that someone will come to them. They call us “Angels!” when we find they need medical help and bring medicine and bread.” Despite the risks, Raychynets and his team help distribute food and medical supplies to local people, along with Bibles and resources. He says that many people ask for the Bibles, even if they haven’t previously had a faith. “Yesterday we were in a park to deliver bread to elderly people who were coming together and waiting for us so that they could have fresh bread. I always have Bibles in my car so that children can have Bibles for the bomb shelters and I can distribute to basements where people, ladies and children are hiding themselves. But one lady saw the Bibles in the car and asked to have one.

“There were about 80 or 90 people there and they just came to the car and asked for the Bibles.  One man stood there with bread in one hand and the Bible in the other. He said ‘I think the Bible is more important than the bread. I have never prayed before. I have never been to church.’ He was about 70 years old and had never read the Bible. But he said he knew now was the time to come to God and be closer to God. “We meet so many people like that. Over the last two weeks here in Kyiv we are seeing people who had never had a Bible before, never prayed before, but who are now asking for us to pray for them on the streets, at homes, everywhere. “People are searching for their faith because they know a miracle has to happen to resolve this situation. We don’t see any diplomatic or other solutions, we just know and understand deep inside only God can make some changes and stop this horrible war.”

But even in the amidst of the horrors of war, Raychynets says God is at work and miracles are happening. “We are very grateful to all of you who are standing with us in prayer and solidarity. I want to tell you that with prayer we see so many miracles. I have seen personally many miracles over the last 16 days – when bombs or rockets have fallen but not exploded and lots of lives have been saved because of that. Russian tanks have been left because they were empty of fuel and soldiers have run off. “In Odessa, in the Black Sea, there has been a storm for four days and ships couldn’t come closer to the city to shoot rockets. So prayers are already bringing results and miracles are saving a lot of lives.” Even as a Pastor, Raychynets says it is difficult to see so much pain and suffering.

This difficult situation is already changing our nation and changing our attitude to life. People are standing together, people are helping each other. I see so much of God’s love, in spite of war here. I think that Ukraine will come out of this situation like a real Christian nation that believes in God. It’s very evident that God does use catastrophes for His purposes and sadly they are needed to bring people to understand what is truly important in life. God is in control of His world and only His eternal purposes are of real significance.

A WORLD IN CRISIS

 The following article Russia’s Putin gambles that the West is weak by Australia’s Prime Minister (2013-2015) appeared in THE WALL STREET JOURNAL February 28, 2022

Tony Abbott as prime minister speaks during a national memorial service to honour victims of the downing of Malaysian Airlines Flight 17 over eastern Ukraine in 2014. Picture: AAP

Ukraine’s fate was probably sealed when President Biden said last month that America might not respond to a “minor incursion” and definitively ruled out “boots on the ground”.

No consideration whatever appears to have been given to declaring a “no fly” zone for Russian military aircraft over Ukraine, even though that had been done to protect Iraqi Kurds against Saddam Hussein and would have given the Ukrainian army a much fairer fight against the Russians’ greater numbers.

America’s unwillingness to take risks to protect Ukraine, a democracy of more than 40 million people, is now fuelling doubts about the risks the US might run to help defend other countries that were once controlled by Russia — especially the Baltic states, which are part of the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation.

It’s obvious that small countries are largely helpless in the absence of collective defence and that countries that won’t or can’t fight an aggressor are doomed to negotiate the best possible surrender.

Yet the West’s bigger surrender has been economic and cultural. For at least 15 years, much of Western policy has been directed to reducing carbon-dioxide emissions. In Australia, former prime minister Kevin Rudd declared that climate change is the “great moral challenge” of our time.

The British parliament, along with many others, has officially declared a “climate emergency”. Last week, as the air raid sirens wailed over Kyiv, John Kerry worried that the Ukraine crisis would produce “massive emissions” and distract the world from climate change.

Reducing emissions is an important policy objective but should never be governments’ main task — especially when it entails risking significant economic damage and putting national security at risk. Europe has been busily closing down coal-fired power stations (and in Germany even emissions-free nuclear ones) only to become dependent on Russian gas that Mr Putin can turn off and on like a tap.

Here in Australia, we’re set on closing coal-fired power stations without any base-load substitute even while our thermal coal exports surge to record levels (including to China, an even more dangerous strategic competitor than Russia).

It’s the private sector that’s doing this, an unforgivable folly reminiscent of Lenin’s reported quip that the “capitalists will sell us the rope by which we hang them”.

Then there’s globalisation, which has undoubtedly made the world richer but at the cost (as we’ve only lately come to realise) of strengthening the West’s competitors and exporting its manufacturing base. Free trade should continue to be promoted but principally between countries with comparable standards of living and only between democracies that respect the rule of law.

The worst contemporary folly is the constant undermining of Western civilisation, history and national virtues.

Partly it is deliberate subversion by cultural Marxists, but mostly it’s the polite acquiescence of diffident and historically ignorant people conditioned not to give offence.

These days the rights of men who want to be women routinely trump those of women who don’t want to face unfair competition in sport. Religious free speech is still OK, as long it’s not the Bible you’re quoting.

Martin Luther King’s famous plea that his children be judged by the content of their character, not the colour of their skin, would be denounced on most Western campuses as an example of “colourblind racism”.

“Monty Python’s Life of Brian” couldn’t be made today due to politically correct wowserism. And I wonder how many students are still taught to take pride in Australia Day, which celebrates the founding of a country that’s as free, fair and prosperous as any on earth.

A Western world that has spent two years sacrificing freedom to preserve life is hardly going to sacrifice life to preserve freedom. Or at least that’s how it must look to the hard men in Moscow and Beijing.

As Churchill said of the Munich sellout in 1938, this is “the first foretaste of a bitter cup that will be proffered to us year by year unless by a supreme recovery of moral health and martial vigour we arise again and take our stand for freedom as in the olden time”.

Tony Abbott was prime minister of Australia, 2013-15.

Fortunately for Christians what is unfolding has been prophesied by God in His History book, the Bible. He told us how His world came into being and why.

In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth.” Genesis 1:1

Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness. And let them have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over the livestock and over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth. Genesis 1:26

It is the habitation for the people He made in His image to be sovereign over His creation but under His authority. He told our ancestor Adam what the consequences would be of disobedience but he and Eve chose to disobey God. SIN and death were the outcomes that we are dealing with today.

And the Lord God commanded the man, saying, “You may surely eat of every tree of the garden, but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die.” Genesis 2:16

Fortunately, God provided a way out by Jesus’ substitutionary death for us and yet most reject God’s offer of eternal life. They foolishly want to control their own destiny for the short time they have on God’s earth and we have history to show us what sinful man has accomplished. For those of us that have realised our sinfulness, repented and submitted our lives to Jesus Lordship, we have received the Holy Spirit that God the Father has sent to indwell the Spirit of each believer. How blessed we are, without the Holy Spirit, it is impossible to live a Christian life. The unbeliever has no understanding of what they are missing out on.

PROPHESIED END TIMES CATASTROPHES

As chaos reigns in Ukraine, Christians and Jews around the world are turning to God in prayer. History demonstrates God uses catastrophes for His purposes.

Faithwire has reported prayer gatherings between Christians and Jews, of Ukrainians coming together in public squares to seek God’s guidance, and of religious and political leaders invoking the sovereignty of God. Rabbi Yaakov Dov Bleich, the chief rabbi of Kyiv, reportedly invited Christian leaders to join the Jewish community in praying Psalm 31, a hymn of protection, over the evolving situation in Ukraine, according to Eternity News.

Others, still, are calling for a day dedicated to prayer for a nation under assault by Russian President Vladimir Putin’s regime.

Pro-Ukraine demonstrators carry signs and Ukrainian flags near Russia’s UN Mission, Thursday, Feb. 24, 2022, in New York. World leaders Thursday condemned Russia’s invasion of Ukraine as “barbaric” and moved to slap unprecedented economic sanctions on Moscow and those close to President Vladimir Putin.

“In these days of uncertainty and fear, we pray that each of us might again turn to the Lord and receive God’s gift of peace, work for God’s justice, know God’s reconciliation and love, and choose paths, not of hatred or destruction, of violence or retribution, but God’s way of justice, mercy, and peace,” Archbishop of Canterbury, Just Welby wrote in a pastoral letter published Thursday.

CBN News senior international correspondent George Thomas echoed the archbishop’s words, urging Christians to come together to pray for Ukraine this Sunday, Feb. 27. “Will you join them?” Thomas asked from the balcony of his hotel room in Lviv, Ukraine. “And will you join us, the entire world, in this prayer?”

All over the world Christian leaders and politicians are calling for prayer. Sadly, it required a catastrophe of this dimension to get Christians to unite in prayer.