Ukraine and Russia have an extensive history of cultural conflict–the last century has been saturated with violence at the hands of extreme dictators and the displacement of many native people groups, like the Crimean Tatars, creating a divide of allegiance between Eastern and Western Ukraine. Recently, tensions came to head, and protests broke out in Independence Square,
the capital area of Ukraine, and Russian troops have moved into the Russian-supporting Crimea.
The nation has become a diverse intersection of Russian-identifying peoples and those in search of stability that the European Union offers. Dependent on
two conflicting international powers, Ukraine’s hostile situation is not easily reconciled.
While many students are aware of the recent crisis in the Ukraine, the conflict is constantly changing. It has, however, not only affected Ukraine but several other
surrounding countries as well as the United States.
According to CNN.com, all that has occurred in the Ukraine “has been simmering since last November, when protesters angry at the sitting government… began hitting the streets.” The protesters were angry
for “its president’s move toward Russia and away
from the European Union.” The conflict began when Ukrainian President Viktor F. Yanukovych backed out of deals being discussed between the Ukrainian officials and the E.U.
Protests reached a point where Yanukovych fled the country, seeking asylum in Russia. The pro E.U. group
continues to occupy the capitol at writing time.
It seems as though most of the tension is centered on Crimea. It is there that local officials “have declared their autonomy from Ukraine and alliance with Russia, as armed men have blockaded and taken other actions against Ukrainian military and other posts.” In a recent vote, 97% of citizens in Crimea voted to join Russia.
U.S. President Barack Obama has weighed in on the situation and has pledged to stand with Ukraine. Meanwhile, other Western officials have warned that Russia will “face significant consequences unless it changes course in Crimea.”
The local church is also responding to this crisis. In an interview with Voice of America, Father Robert Hitchens, a pastor at Washington, D.C.’s Ukrainian Catholic National Shrine of the Holy Family, says that this crisis is very hard on the church.
“During this time of Lent, we’re on a journey of conversion,” Hitchens reports. “The human side of us would like to hate people. But we’re called to rise above that. So we’re praying. But it’s hard.”
This is occurring in many churches that serve predominantly Ukrainian or Russian Christians worldwide. One reporter said that protesters from the Slavic tradition in the Orthodox church are holding “a service for the blessing of weapons” so that they will “protect the truth of Christ.”
Undeniably, whatever continues to develop in Ukraine will be of continual interest to the international Christian body at large.