Given what has transpired over the past days, I thought an early communication with everyone would be appropriate. I will still send out my regular newsletter for March in about two weeks.
Needless to say, my anticipated work schedule for this month has been superseded by developments in Ukraine, as the former Soviet republic courageously defends itself against an act of naked aggression by its much larger neighbour. Up to last week I was working on a book chapter that is due shortly; reading Jonathan Chaplin's excellent book, Faith in Democracy, which I hope to review soon; searching for the copyright holder to arrangements composed more than seven decades ago for the Genevan Psalter melodies; and preparing for upcoming lectures.
However, the events of last thursday, 24 February, upended all that, as our family were glued to the screens in the household, watching the unfolding events in horror. To be honest, I hadn't seen this coming. I knew that Russian President Vladimir Putin nursed a sense of grievance over the breakup of the former Soviet Union and wished to see its fragments knitted together again. But I thought he would likely keep chipping away at the disputed edges of Ukraine, Georgia, and elsewhere, carefully avoiding an open conflict with the west. I was wrong, as were so many others. As it turns out, Putin is not even a particularly good Machiavellian. Machiavelli said it is better to be feared than loved, but he also said that the last thing a savvy leader needs is to be hated, which is precisely what Putin has succeeded in making himself.
In January I wrote three posts about the situation in Ukraine: Russia and Ukraine: a fraught relationship, Ukraine's impossible dream, and Putin's destabilizing ambitions. These have been overtaken by events, especially the second one. I had previously thought it unwise for NATO to accept Ukraine as a member, because, like so many former Soviet republics, its peripheral regions were subject to dispute by its neighbours. In guaranteeing these borders, NATO would in effect be taking sides in these complicated conflicts.
However, I now believe that the situation has been altered irrevocably by Putin's action. Whereas Ukraine was once divided between Ukrainian-speaking and Russian-speaking citizens with their different international allegiances, Putin has very likely erased that historic division and solidified Ukrainians in their resolve to cast their lot with NATO and the European Union. In fact, if Putin wanted to limit NATO's expansion, his approach has obviously backfired. I would not be at all surprised to see Finland, Sweden, and Austria queue up for membership in the Atlantic alliance. Whatever his flaws as a peacetime leader, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has inspired the world with his courage and determination in the present crisis. He and the Ukrainian people desperately need our prayers, in addition to more concrete assistance.
I will link here to my posts of recent days: Naked aggression: Putin finally moves, The Psalms in wartime, A Psalm for Putin (yes, indeed!), Putin's gamble, Kenya's progressive outlook: a lesson for Russia, Gathara begs to differ, and Merkel saw it coming. I will continue to post regularly on the current crisis and related issues, so keep watching my blog for new posts.
Thank you once again to those who have generously contributed to my work with Global Scholars Canada. GSC's page for giving can be found here. Once you are in the page, scroll down to the heading marked DONATION
DETAILS, and then choose one of the options under FUND. Americans may donate through our sister organization in the US. If you cannot afford to give, please do continue to pray for my work.
Yours in the service of God's kingdom,
David Koyzis, Global Scholar