The Crisis in Ukraine: Where Is It Leading?
The world continues to watch events unfold in Eastern Europe. LHT gives our readers an update on the crisis and its prophetic significance.
Life, Hope & Truth has been following the crisis in Ukraine closely. We reported on the crisis when Vladimir Putin shocked the world by occupying and annexing Crimea:
It has now been over four weeks since Crimea’s annexation into the Russian Federation. In the weeks following the annexation, Russia has been stationing growing numbers of troops along Russia’s border with eastern Ukraine. Multiple news outlets have reported that about 40,000 Russian troops are stationed on the eastern side of the border. NATO’s supreme allied commander in Europe, Gen. Philip Breedlove, has said that Russia has the capability to “accomplish its objectives in between three and five days if directed to take actions.”
In other words, Russia could gain control of nearly all of eastern Ukraine in a matter of days. Though Vladimir Putin says he has no intention to invade Ukraine, he continues to maintain that he has the right to intervene within Ukraine’s borders if he deems it is necessary to protect ethnic Russians.
Pro-Russian demonstrations in eastern Ukraine
Meanwhile, inside Ukraine, the last few weeks have seen attacks by pro-Russian Ukrainian groups against government buildings in eastern Ukraine (particularly in the cities of Donetsk, Luhansk and Kharkiv). These protesters have hoisted Russian flags on government buildings and demanded a referendum for the eastern regions to vote on declaring independence from Kiev. Though Russia denies any involvement in these uprisings, various news agencies (including the New York Times and the BBC) have published photographs of purported Russian soldiers on the ground in eastern Ukrainian cities.
The Ukrainian crisis is a fast-moving situation that changes by the day. We urge our readers to keep a close watch on the decisions of Vladimir Putin, Europe and the United States.If Russian soldiers are in eastern Ukraine on orders from the Russian government, it is likely that Russia is purposely trying to foment unrest to separate the eastern regions from the Ukrainian government in Kiev and push them in the direction of Moscow. President Putin could also label any military response against the eastern regions by Kiev as an “act of aggression” and use it as a pretext to take a more direct role in eastern Ukraine.
On April 22, U.S. Vice President Joe Biden visited Kiev and pledged continued U.S. financial support to the Ukrainian government (the White House announced a $50 million foreign aid package for Kiev).
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov has advocated the Russian position that Ukrainians in their respective regions should determine their future. This position is intended to weaken the government in Kiev by giving regions the options of declaring autonomy, semiautonomy or joining the Russian Federation.
What will happen next?
This situation is continuing to change by the day, and Vladimir Putin shows no signs of compromising his position.
Though the West may continue to issue limited sanctions on Russia, the fact is that it is not likely to do much else to prevent Russia from intruding in Ukrainian affairs. Europe remains too dependent on Russian energy to completely cut ties with Russia at this time. An entire continent cannot replace 30 percent of its oil supply in a matter of months. If Russia does indeed move troops into eastern Ukraine and directly confronts Ukrainian troops, it is possible that Ukraine could erupt in war.
The question is, what would the West do? Would the Western powers declare war on Russia and fight alongside Ukraine?
The answer is likely “no.”
- Russia still holds the second-largest nuclear arsenal in the world. The Western nations are not likely to risk an all-out nuclear war to defend the sovereignty of the Ukrainian government in Kiev.
- Ukraine’s geographical proximity to Russia makes it unlikely that Western nations would put troops on the ground. Russia’s historical and ethnic ties to Ukraine are stronger than the Western powers’ dedication to the sovereignty of the present government in Kiev.
- Though the West, particularly the United States, has used uncharacteristically tough talk against Russia, recent history has shown that Western leaders currently lack the resolve to make major military commitments to troubled regions that don’t directly affect their interests. (Consider, for example, Rwanda, Georgia, Libya and Syria.)
Without the promise of Western military support, Ukraine would likely capitulate to Russia at the threat of direct warfare. Ukraine’s military would stand no chance against the Russian military.
But time will tell. The Ukrainian crisis is a fast-moving situation that changes by the day. We urge our readers to keep a close watch on the decisions of Vladimir Putin, Europe and the United States.
The prophetic perspective
Jesus Christ specifically prophesied that the end times would be marked by a period of “wars and rumor of wars” (Matthew 24:6). This prophecy of geopolitical unrest was to precede “the end” (verses 3, 6)—the series of events that will directly result in the near destruction of human life and the return of Jesus Christ (verses 22, 30).
The Bible does not reveal that the current crisis in Ukraine will be the spark that leads to the Great Tribulation. There are many prophetic elements that need to be fulfilled before that time begins. Particularly:
- The rise of an economic and militarily powerful united Europe.
- The military and economic decline of the descendants of the biblical patriarch Joseph (the United States and Britain) to the point that they will suffer defeat at the hands of Europe (not Russia).
It is possible that Russia’s newfound aggression could be a motivating force for Europe to seek more unity and form a stronger European defense force driven by a fear of the growing power and aggression of Russia and China.
To learn more about end-time prophetic events, read our articles on the end times.