The Word on the Week


Ukraine is a country whose loyalty is torn in two between Russia in the East and the EC countries of Western Europe in the West. Since independence the old alliance with Russia have left 30% of the population speaking Russian. The President, known to the Protesters as “The Criminal”, comes from the Eastern part which would favour retaining links with Russia.

The Ukrainian speaking majority wants closer links with Western Europe and the present struggle is around this issue.

Russia has a strong hand in that she has a military base in the country and also supplies Ukraine with 35 per cent of its natural gas. A further 25 percent of the natural gas in Ukraine comes from internal sources, the remaining 40 percent from Central Asia through transit routes that Russia controls.

At the same time, 85 percent of the gas which Russian exports to Western Europe comes through Ukraine. Perhaps that helps to explain the West’s interest in the current crisis and the Russian insistence that the protesters are terrorists.

This week a deal was struck to limit the President’s powers, introduce a Government of National Unity and hold Elections in December.

This may have been acceptable two weeks ago but with the recent spilling of blood (77 dead and 587 injured) nothing short of getting rid of the President will satisfy the protesters.

Last night the coffins of the dead were brought into Independence Square ensuring an emotive content to the speeches and stiffening the resolve of the protesters to remain there until the President goes. The people who gave their lives are called “heroes” and their martyrdom has altered the dynamic of the conflict.

At its core lies mistrust of the Government and its President. This is based on their past performance. As a consequence they are no longer believed. So when a deal was made the protesters do not think it will be kept.

In Christianity it is reckoned there were 167,000 martyrs (Regent College research) last year. They were slain for there faith in Jesus Christ. They lived largely but by no means exclusively in the 20/40 degrees latitude band round the World. In many cases they could have escaped the death penalty by renouncing their faith but like their Lord they remained faithful unto death. They trusted Jesus when he said that there are some things worse than death (St Matthew Chapter 10 verse 28). They also believed in life after death as is witnessed by St Paul’s 2nd letter to Timothy written shortly before his martyrdom, “Therefore do not be ashamed of the testimony about our Lord, nor of me his prisoner, but share in suffering for the gospel by the power of God, who saved us and called us to a holy calling, not because of our works but because of his own purpose and grace, which he gave us in Christ Jesus before the ages began, and which now has been manifested through the appearing of our Savior Christ Jesus, who abolished death and brought life and immortality to light through the gospel” (Chapter 1 verses 8-10)

Conflicts arising out of injustices will be present till Jesus’s return. Christians are called to be faithful to their calling to proclaim his loving kindness in providing a complete salvation to all who recognise their need.