Putin’s War, Ukraine, and the Last Days

After more than a month of threats, warnings, and troop buildups on the Ukrainian border, Vladimir Putin, president of Russia, not only sent troops to Ukraine’s two breakaway regions, Donetsk and Luhansk, but is also attacking Ukraine proper.

As of this writing, news outlets have reported ongoing attacks in Kyiv, the capital of Ukraine, as well as the cities of Kharkiv, Mariupol, and Myrhorod, among others. Russian troops invaded from the neighboring Republic of Belarus in the north and the Republic of Crimea in the south.

“Ukraine has declared martial law and severed all diplomatic relations with Russia. It says weapons will be given to anyone who wants them,” said a BBC article. So far, “dozens of people have been killed, including about 10 civilians.”

Reuters declared it to be “the biggest attack by one state against another in Europe since World War Two.”


Cold War Echoes

To a student of history, this conflict isn’t new or surprising. The seeds go back to the Cold War, during which time much of the world was divided into two camps: NATO, under the leadership of the United States, and the Warsaw Pact, under the Soviet Union. For decades, the organizations were ferocious ideological enemies. As for Ukraine, it was, at this point, part of the Soviet Union itself.

However, the collapse of the Soviet Union in the late 1980s and early 1990s and the dissolving of the Warsaw Pact saw some of the USSR’s former allies, like Poland, Hungary, and the Czech Republic, actually join NATO. While Ukraine did not, it did declare independence from the fallen Soviet Union and within the last decade, has taken decided steps towards becoming a member of NATO.

This did not sit well with Russia’s reigning autocrat. Putin “has called Nato’s expansion ‘menacing’ and claimed that the prospect of Ukraine joining the body is an existential threat to his country.”

But as for the direct reasons of his Ukrainian invasion, the president has alleged “the goal [of] … demilitarisation and ‘denazification,’” the latter of which has been labeled “absurd” by many, not least of all Ukraine’s own president, Volodymyr Zelenskyy, a Jew himself. Nonetheless, Putin has claimed that “neo-Nazis seized power in Ukraine” and “[have] been responsible for eight years of genocide.” These accusations are unfounded.

Many others thus see Putin’s move as one of clear “aggression.” For instance, said Latvia’s Prime Minister Krišjanis Karinš: “He is fighting for power.”

As for the world’s response, all sorts of economic sanctions are being immediately applied against Russia—but that is the extent. No one is talking about sending troops to Ukraine. The attitude in the United States, the one world power most capable of a military response, is one of frustration and preoccupation with domestic, instead of foreign, issues—like “COVID, inflation, safety.” And now with the imposed sanctions, Americans can add to the mix more strenuous, skyrocketing gas prices. 

Indeed, prior to the attack, “a new poll from The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research” found that “26% [of Americans] say the U.S. should have a major role in the conflict[;] …. fifty-two percent say a minor role; 20% say none at all.”

Adding to the public reluctance were America’s two recent unsuccessful wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

For now, though the economic sanctions will undoubtedly hurt Russia and though there have been war protests within the country, Putin seems undeterred.


“Do Not Be Troubled”

On the heels of a two-year pandemic which has completely upended lives around the globe, we now have a war unfolding—in real time—right before our eyes, a war that could turn into the biggest conflagration in Europe since the Nazis were defeated in World War II.

“If he (Putin) can attack Ukraine, it could be any other European country,” noted Karinš.

“Russia’s widespread aggression is a threat to the entire world and to all Nato countries,” warned the prime minister of Estonia, Kaja Kallas.

Yet though world peace seems to be hanging by a thread, the Bible says distinctly not to be worried. In fact, Jesus Himself instructed, “When you hear of wars and rumors of wars, do not be troubled; for such things must happen, but the end is not yet” (Mark 13:7). What is this new development in Europe but “wars and rumors of wars”? What are all these adversities of the past two years but signs of the times heralding the second coming of Jesus Christ?

Christ revealed to us these signs thousands of years ago for our own good. The latter days will not just be “nation … [rising] against nation, and kingdom against kingdom,” but Jesus predicted also “famines, pestilences, and earthquakes” (Matthew 24:7). Have we not seen with increasing rapidity all these things coming to pass?

But then, Christ clearly stated, “All these are the beginning of sorrows” (v. 8, emphasis added). Like birth pains, these signs will only strengthen with time.

Every day, we are seeing more and more the futility of putting our hope in this world, in its heartaches, its fears, its instabilities. But there is another world to come; and through Christ we have the opportunity to be its citizens. Time is running out—but it hasn’t run out yet. We need to use what time we have left wisely—and what better place to start than our essential Sabbath School Study Hour series on Preparation for the End Time?

Put your hope in Jesus amid these troublous times. Take hold of His power, His faith, His promises—and be prepared for His “Ultimate Deliverance.” 

Richard Young
Richard Young is a writer for Amazing Facts International and other online and print publications.
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