People protest Russian President Vladimir Putin's war in Ukraine in front of the United Nations headquarters in New York on March 2. (Photo: AFP)
To make a strong gesture of protest, for the first time in living memory, a pope went to the embassy of another country to express deep concern and protest about the invasion of another country.
Pope Francis did. He walked into the Russian embassy in Rome to express what hundreds of millions of people around the world feel and believe — that the invasion of Ukraine is immoral, evil, wrong and repugnant.
A return to war in Europe is shocking and unbelievable for many. It will be a war without end as its effects will last for a generation.
It is evil, destructive and vicious and causes the horrifying reality of death and wounded. All who approve, support, enable and applaud such evil action may also be participating in immoral acts of violent crimes against humanity and being companions of evil.
When we remain totally silent in the face of evil, wrongdoing and human rights violations, we can be part of the crime by our refusal to stand against it.
Who can approve war but only those who will benefit from it? The suppliers of weapons, ammunition and war material are the ones to gain.
He hates the fact that so many former Soviet-controlled countries are now members of the EU and NATO and Russia is a second-rate power
The instigator of the war, Vladimir Putin, president of Russia, hopes to gain prestige, power and praise by taking Ukraine back into his and Russia’s control and influence.
That is how it is with Putin, who tasted the bitter loss of national prestige when Russia collapsed in 1991 and the Soviet Union fell apart. Many countries once under its once-powerful sway declared independence as did Ukraine. That was bitter medicine for the old Soviets and they have been choking on it until now.
The driving force of Putin, now 20 years in power, is his desire to exert power and restore the twisted pride and image of the once-mighty Soviet Union of which he was a part and before which the world once trembled but then no more.
That is until he put his nuclear force on alert. He wants the world’s attention. He needs to be respected and feared. He hates the fact that so many former Soviet-controlled countries are now members of the EU and NATO and Russia is a second-rate power.
He wants to restore Russia as a great power and be respected. He wants his legacy in history but the quick victory and capitulation of Ukraine have eluded him as the Ukrainian people and army have put up great resistance and halted his advance.
Putin will eventually overwhelm them as the Western powers cannot intervene lest they start a world war. Ukraine is not a member of NATO and they will not start a war with Russia. The prospect of Ukraine joining the EU is what Putin fears. It will be lost to Russia forever, so he wants to capture Ukraine.
Russians might want to oust him one day. They want higher standards of living and greater freedom and prosperity
Putin resents the modernization of the Ukrainian economy and culture by being closer to the EU and the West. He may see it as a rebuke to him and a threat to the stability of the threadbare economy of Russia and the relative poverty of the Russian people.
Russians might want to oust him one day. They want higher standards of living and greater freedom and prosperity. That economic hardship is increasing with the sanctions being imposed.
Putin has stifled dissent and protest with cruelty and repression. This war and invasion could backfire badly for him but his generals are not telling him about the thousands of Russians killed and weapons destroyed.
The international sanctions suddenly cut off the Russian economy from the Swift system, a fast international payments system that speeds financial transactions around the world. It is damaging the Russian economy.
The freezing of financial accounts held by Russia in other countries is a disaster; his nation is now cut off from the world economically, culturally and even in sports. Foreign investors are closing down and leaving.
The value of the Russian rouble has dropped like a stone against all major currencies.
All this has to be a cause of concern. Putin has to be alarmed and worried.
He and not the Russian people have released the dogs of war, but they are suffering as a direct consequence
Besides, his oligarchs whom he enriched with billions in personal wealth are losing their prestige, property and freedom to fly. Russian flights are barred everywhere. Their luxury, million-dollar yachts moored in Mediterranean ports may be targeted for sabotage after one sailor tried to scuttle one recently. Their ships will be held by sanctions in ports. The French government has held up one ship owned by a Russian oligarch.
The oligarchs created Putin and they are now losing billions of dollars as their stocks, shares and companies are failing. They may want to have a new puppet.
Putin cannot accept or endure any criticism, challenge or opposition. He ordered his opponents to be poisoned and assassinated in Russia and outside it. He totally controls the media and dissent is not allowed.
Thousands of Russians who protested the war are being arrested. Russia is a dictatorship and now Putin is the new Hitler as Time magazine pictured him on its front cover. He and not the Russian people have released the dogs of war, but they are suffering as a direct consequence.
Putin sees himself as a strong, heroic person with the tough leader image that Russia has always desired. Instead, in the eyes of the world, he will be seen as a warmonger and dictator, not the one that won Ukraine from the West.
As hundreds of thousands of Ukrainians flee the bombs as refugees, the eastern countries of the EU have opened their borders and allowed them to enter freely without formal asylum applications.
Compare this to the barbed wire fences and troops deployed to the same borders to stop Muslims and black refugees from entering. The dramatic change of immigration policy is because, as one commentator said, “these refugees are white, Christian and like us, not Muslim or black, they are one of us.”
Even in war, racial discrimination is a national virus and weakness.
The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official editorial position of UCA News.
….as we enter the last months of 2021, we are asking readers like you to help us keep UCA News free.
For the last 40 years, UCA News has remained the most trusted and independent Catholic news and information service from Asia. Every week, we publish nearly 100 news reports, feature stories, commentaries, podcasts and video broadcasts that are exclusive and in-depth, and developed from a view of the world and the Church through informed Catholic eyes.
Our journalistic standards are as high as any in the quality press; our focus is particularly on a fast-growing part of the world - Asia - where, in some countries the Church is growing faster than pastoral resources can respond to – South Korea, Vietnam and India to name just three.
And UCA News has the advantage of having in its ranks local reporters who cover 23 countries in south, southeast, and east Asia. We report the stories of local people and their experiences in a way that Western news outlets simply don’t have the resources to reach. And we report on the emerging life of new Churches in old lands where being a Catholic can at times be very dangerous.
With dwindling support from funding partners in Europe and the USA, we need to call on the support of those who benefit from our work.