As Russia continues to illegally wage war on Ukraine, new information breaks every few days, especially as this conflict is lived out in a digital age that offers 24/7, real-time access. Below are several important developments that you should know and pray about.
Refugees flee to neighboring European countries.
According to United Nations data, over 2.3 million people have fled Ukraine since February 24. (The total population of the country is around 44 million.) A spokesperson for UNICEF told NBC News that at least half of them are children, some of whom have been forced to travel on their own. The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) has stated that this is the fastest growing refugee crisis in Europe since World War II.
The majority of Ukranians who have fled the fighting have gone to neighboring countries like Poland, Hungary, Moldova, Slovakia, and Romania. Nearly 100,000, though, have gone to more distant countries such as Germany, France, and the U.K. Around 1.33 million people arrived in Poland, according to Poland’s embassy to the European Union, and Germany’s interior ministry registered a total of 80,035 refugees.
Russia accused of bombing a children’s hospital
On Wednesday, the Russians proposed a 12-hour ceasefire to provide evacuation corridors from select cities such as Kyiv, Chernihiv, Sumy, Kharkiv, and Mariupol. But during that time period, Russian forces reportedly bombed a maternity and children’s hospital in Mariupol that killed three people, including one child. Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said the bombing was “proof of a genocide.”
The United Nations Human Rights Office says that at least 549 civilians have been killed in Ukraine since Russia’s invasion.
Governments and multinational corporations impose additional sanctions on Russia
President Joe Biden announced a U.S. ban on imports of oil, natural gas, and coal from Russia. U.S. imports from Russia account for only 8% of America’s energy, of which only about 3% was crude oil. The EU also plans to cut gas imports from Russia by two-thirds this year, and the U.K. says it will phase out “the import of Russian oil and oil products by the end of 2022.”
The U.K. has also frozen the assets of seven Russian oligarchs, including one that owns an English soccer team. Additionally, the U.K. has made it a criminal offense for Russian aircraft to enter British airspace.
A number of international companies have also imposed voluntary sanctions. The list of companies includes Apple, Disney, Ford, MasterCard, McDonalds, and Visa. Coca-Cola and PepsiCo announced they would be pulling some products from the country.
“The private sector is united against Russia’s vicious war of choice,” said President Biden.
Russians shut down Chernobyl nuclear plant
On the first day of the invasion, Russian forces seized control of the Chernobyl power plant in northern Ukraine, the site of the world’s worst nuclear disaster. The plant was disconnected from the state’s power grid which led the Ukrainian government to warn of possible radiation leak.
But the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) says there has been “no critical impact” to the safety of Chernobyl. According to IAEA, the “heat load of spent fuel storage pool and volume of cooling water at #Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant [is] sufficient for effective heat removal without need for electrical supply.”
Ukraine’s energy minister said the country is doing “everything possible” to restore the electricity supply to the power plant “as soon as possible.”
U.S. denies transfer of Polish fighter planes
Poland offered to provide more than two dozen military aircraft to Ukraine. The government of Poland said it could transfer its 28 MiG-29 fighter planes to a U.S. military base — Ramstein Air Base in Germany — where they could then be given to the Ukranians.
But the chief spokesperson for the Pentagon and the head of the U.S. European Command both announced that the U.S. wouldn’t take part in an agreement to give warplanes to Poland after it sends its fleet to Ukraine. “We do not support the transfer of the fighters to the Ukrainian air force at this time and have no desire to see them in our custody either,” said Pentagon spokesman John Kirby.
As this tragic war wages on, Christians should fight for peace through persistent prayer and advocacy in our sphere of influence. Our hope is that God, in his sovereignty and mercy, can bring this conflict to an end and spare lives. The Bible says, “The king’s heart is a stream of water in the hand of the LORD; he turns it wherever he will” (Prov. 21:1). We ought to fervently pray that God would turn President Putin’s heart away from war, that he would protect those in harm’s way, and that he would give leaders in the U.S. and around the world the wisdom and fortitude to do what’s right.
Dan Kitwood / Getty Staff