Russia recently accelerated the process for Ukrainian citizens to gain Russian citizenship. The circulating question—why? After all, Russia is technically still at war with Eastern Ukraine. But Vice President of Ministry Operations for Slavic Gospel Association Eric Mock says the move makes sense.
“Since 2014, with the revolution that [Ukraine] had where they ousted [the] previous government and wanted to become more of an independent nation…the first response of Russia was to reclaim, in their words, to reclaim the Crimean Peninsula. Internationally, this has not been accepted as an acceptable move.”
Accelerating the process of offering new passports and identification to Ukrainians expedites aligning Ukrainians with Russia. There are pro-Russian factions in the Crimean Peninsula, some of which are supported by the Russian military. Military exchanges between the pro-Russian and pro-Ukrainian forces happen in Eastern Ukraine near a line of conflict known as the Minsk accord line.
Tensions in Ukraine
To this day, people in Eastern Ukraine continue to die from artillery fire on both sides of the conflict. Furthermore, the fighting which occurred between 2014 to 2016 decimated the infrastructure of this region. Combined with the separation of the Russian patriarchy from the Ukrainian patriarchy earlier this year, tensions are high in this area.
“There’s a little bit of conflict among the Russian Orthodox Church. There has been an increase in persecution of Protestant churches in what is known as this occupied area…. We are watching that and monitoring that to see if this persecution continues to grow,” Mock says.
However, SGA steers clear of politics. Instead, it supports local churches who are sharing the Gospel on both sides of the divide.
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SOURCE: Mission Network News, Beth Stolicker