Russian evangelical leader apologizes to Christians in Ukraine as monastery with 1,000 people attacked

A Ukrainian woman with her baby boards a train bound for Warsaw, at Przemysl station in southeastern Poland, Friday, March 11, 2022. Thousands of people have been killed and more than 2.3 million have fled the country since Russian troops entered Ukraine on February 24. (AP Photo/Petros Giannakouris)

Over the weekend, a top Russian evangelical leader apologized to Christians in Ukraine for “what my country has done”. Meanwhile, Russian forces shelled a historic Orthodox Christian monastery in the east Ukraine.

Vitaly Vlasenko, general secretary of the Russian Evangelical Alliance (REA), wrote an open letter on March 12, using cautious language and highlighting how he tried to “prevent war.” It remains to be seen how Christians in Ukraine – and the Russian government – ​​will respond to this expression of solidarity.

Christians in Ukraine receive apology from REA leader

“I mourn what my country did during its recent military invasion of another sovereign country, Ukraine,” Vlasenko’s letter begins. Notably, it uses the words “invasion” and “war” rather than the government-approved term “special military operation.” Russia has cracked down on “fake news” that disparages its forces.

Calling the invasion a “shock”, adds Vlasenko, “in the worst case, I could not imagine what is currently being observed in Ukraine.” The deaths, destruction and refugee crisis “cause me deep sadness, bitterness and regret for the decisions made by the leaders of my country”, he writes. “I apologize to everyone who suffered, lost loved ones and loved ones, or lost their place of residence as a result of this military conflict.”

Vlasenko also lists the actions he took “to try to stop this military invasion”. These include writing to Russian President Vladimir Putin, praying and young, and the organization of a round table and an international conference. The REA has also provided humanitarian aid to Ukrainian refugees, he notes.

“My prayer is that you will find the strength of the Lord to extend the hand of solidarity and forgiveness, so that we can live as people of God in our world,” Vlasenko concludes. “May our Heavenly Father help us all.

Damage from Russian airstrikes 16and-Monastery of the Century

Also on March 12, one of Ukraine’s holiest sites for Orthodox Christians was the target of a Russian airstrike. The Holy Dormition Svyatogorsk Lavra, a monastery in Donetsk built in 1526, was hit and damaged by artillery. According to Ukrainian officials, nearly 1,000 people were inside at the time, including about 500 refugees. Several dozen people were injured.

“The occupiers have crossed all possible boundaries of common sense and humanity,” writes Pavlo Kyrylenko, governor of Donetsk. “They must receive appropriate punishment for their hellish crimes!”

Barry F. Howard