Our hearts are crying for the people of Ukraine.
We are in the second grim month of the invasion of Ukraine by Russia under the leadership of President Putin. As of March 26, the U.N. estimates more than 1119 Ukrainian civilians (incl. 15 girls and 32 boys), men women and children, have been killed (although the actual toll is “considerably higher”). In just over a month, the carnage of dead soldiers on both sides of this conflict is horrific. Civilian targets in Ukraine, including schools, hospitals, theaters, apartments, government buildings, transportation facilities, and other public buildings have shattered the lives of many and the urban physical landscape. There is yet no sign of concrete progress towards peace, the current negotiations notwithstanding.
Humanitarian corridors have been shelled or fired upon, preventing safe passage of those refugees desperately fleeing the bombings. Many Ukrainian civilians have been forced to be transported against their will to Russian camps. Independent observers believe that multiple war crimes and crimes against humanity have been committed during the invasion.
Independent news outlets in Russia have been shuttered. Russian citizens are receiving the news of the invasion largely from outlets that are friendly with President Putin. Many international social media outlets are blocked in Russia, preventing Russian citizens from witnessing actions taken by their government. Peaceful protests by Russians are met harshly with lengthy incarcerations for many. Russian society is becoming disconnected socially and economically from the outside world, a dangerous situation.
The Episcopal Peace Fellowship, along with other faith communities, strongly condemns the actions taken by Russia under the leadership of President Putin. Invading a country by hostile military means is an uncivilized, destructive action and contrary to all historical measures of our global community and faith traditions.
All parties must focus on using all peaceful means available to prevent conflicts from ever reaching this level of hostilies.
We wish to assert, as many reaffirm, that war is never the answer. History shows that only by establishing a fair, negotiated solution by all parties to this conflict will there be a lasting peace in Ukraine.
There must be a protracted cease fire to allow all civilians in Ukraine to emerge from the firestorm of bombs steadily raining on their homes and businesses. Adherence to international codes of conduct in wartime must be honored by all parties.
All foreign military troops must leave Ukraine immediately to begin the healing peace process.
Along with North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), both the United Nations (U.N.) and the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) must play a major role in bringing peace to this horrible conflict.
Let the rapprochement and recovery begin immediately!
“Send your spirit of hope upon your world
May we live into your vision of a future of justice and peace”