On the Verge of Crimea's Vote, the Stakes Are High and Russian Behavior Versus Russian Reassurances Don't Line Up

My heart goes out to Ukraine, especially those in the eye of the storm in Crimea (seemingly, virtually lost to Russia) and the eastern and southeastern portions of the country that both border Russia and boast large ethnic Russian populations. These are the areas that voted for the ousted former president that some, including me, think that Russia may like to bring forcibly back to power as a puppet.  This is a call to prayer for them. 

See map below for the ethnic makeup of the country, i.e. Russian population:  

I have kept watch over the country and events that have transpired since the protests of November 2013, through the ouster of the president and the elected parliament's decision to go back to the 2004 constitution and Russian interference since then.  As an amateur historian, I see parallels with Hitler's taking of the Sudetenland and I am concerned about countries that border Russia and Ukraine who may feel the sting of broken promises to protect just as Poland felt in World War II.  If I were a citizen of NATO member countries bordering Ukraine or of the Baltic states bordering Russia, I would be extremely concerned by the weak response of the West in regard to Russian action in Crimea and in the eastern portions of the country, not to mention the massing of troops and the exercises a mere two to three hours from the capital of Kiev.  And, if I were a citizen of Ukraine, I would probably sense that the West would willingly sacrifice our country as the price of peace, a peace that Ukrainians would not enjoy.  

1,500 paratroopers
8,500 artillery troops
armed with rocket launchers, howitzers, antitank guns and the like.

Word is that Belarus has also offered to join Russia in joint military exercises, after which the Russian federation sent it several Russian fighter jets. This disturbing development could mean more trouble for Ukraine if one observes where Belarus and Russia are in respect to Ukraine in general and Kiev (the Ukrainian capital) in particular.

2010 presidential vote. Red areas voted for Yanukovych, the ousted pro-Russian president

This means that a Russian-Belarus invasion could quickly take the Ukraine from the North, South and East.  The lack of a U.S. and NATO military response, including boots on the ground in Western Ukraine and in countries bordering Ukraine on the west as a show of force, has left Ukraine at the mercy of the Russians. Without a serious allied military commitment, out-gunned, out-numbered and an increasingly surrounded Ukraine has no hopes for a military solution.  The presidential vote map of 2010 above shows how Ukraine could be divided into a Western and Eastern Ukraine, with Yanukovych as the president of Eastern Ukraine, so even with somewhat successful Western pressure, we may be looking at a very different Ukraine to come. Let's hope and pray that Ukraine stays united and in Ukrainian hands rather than divided or united under a Russian puppet regime.

In Crimea, the news continues to give us a picture of more and more arriving equipment and personnel from Russia. Ukrainian bases are surrounded, its troops and leaders being ordered by armed men without insignia to surrender. Reportedly, 8 Ukrainian units in Crimea have been taken, twenty-two more are surrounded and forty-nine of Crimea's fifty-six border stations are similarly impacted. More than three dozen Ukrainian MiG-29 jets were taken as well.  It seems a matter of time before one of those bases' Ukrainian troops open fire on the Russians or visa-versa.  A Ukrainian colonel has threatened to do so even as he acknowledges their certain death and defeat at the hands of the superior numbers outside.

So, should we believe Russia's words or its actions?

Spiritually, I know that God loves to show Himself glorious in impossible situations.  I'm encouraged that reports indicate that Ukrainians are flooding churches with prayers for peace and deliverance.  Will God answer these prayers according to the will of those fasting and praying believers?  No, He will answer according to His will and His alone.  That may mean deliverance but it also may mean some more hardship that leads to a far greater spiritual result.  Join with me in praying for deliverance for Ukraine, both spiritually and physically.  Pray that God would exalt Himself by humbling the Russian Bear, yet not our will but the Lord's be done. 

Please pray for the Crimean vote on Sunday, mere hours away, EST.  The choices are to join Russia or be independent.  No choice is for the status quo.  With Russian propaganda, a population that is majority Russian and pro-Russian officials orchestrating a vote so quickly (therefore, in the event of a surprise, they could rig the result), no one will be surprised by the choice, I imagine.  I believe that the minority population of Crimea is in the most danger, or at least will go through the most sadness, after Sunday's vote. 

I ask that you also pray for Western countries to remember history and determine not to repeat the mistakes of World War II.  While Putin doesn't appear to be a Hitler, many foresee the Russians as leading an invasion of Israel in the end times (see Ezekiel 38 and 39).  If they are correct, we are witnesses to changes that very well may lead up to it (relations with Iran and its nuclear program, changing Egyptian allegiance away from the U.S. and toward Russia, the Arab Spring and the resulting weakening of Washington's position in the Middle East, Russia's willingness to use military force on its neighbors in Georgia and Ukraine among others).  

God will be glorified and Putin will have to answer for what he is doing.  He may be emboldened by Western inaction. However, the Lord gets the last say.  And all God's people, in Ukraine and around the world, say, Amen!  

Watch and pray, brothers and sisters.  Watch and pray!  Your fellow believers in Ukraine need your prayers more so now than in any time of recent memory.  

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