EDITOR’S NOTE: This letter came to me through a friend of mine. I know this woman’s father-in-law. I spoke to her on the phone at length. She is a married woman in her 30’s with small children. She asked that her name not be used as she fears reprisals from Russia. At this writing, she has just flown to Russia to re-register as a citizen.
She has dual citizenship—American and Russian. But because she is in contact with a Russian law firm who observes Putin’s actions closely, she knows soon Putin will have every Russian expat return to Russia to re-register as a citizen or face a $5,000 fine and up to two years in prison. This woman is doing it now as she feels it is safer—her mother and other family members reside in Russia. She wants to be able to continue to visit them.
Read her story and her plea. She gave me a contact for those who want to help. It’s Joshua.firstname.lastname@example.org
My Dear Friends and My Dear Fellow Americans,
I am sure by now all of you heard that Russia started a war in Ukraine… A war Russia will not admit it is fighting… A war about which Russia is lying to the rest of the world. The reasons for this war may be obscured by all the propaganda, so let me explain. I know this is a long email, but I think it is important for you to understand the gravity and what it means. A lot of it is bad news, but I give some good news towards the end, so please bear with me.
President Vladimir Putin is attempting to return the lands, which were lost to Kremlin’s influence after the break of the Soviet Union. Putin has always maintained that “the break up of the USSR has been the biggest geo-political catastrophe of the 20th century” and he seeks to reverse it.
So why has Russia attacked Ukraine now, after it has been independent for 23 years? Well, Ukrainians have just recently chased out President Yanukovich (their corrupt pro-Kremlin leader who is now living under Putin’s protection in Moscow). Ukrainians long to walk in freedom and enter into closer cooperation with the West. Yet ever since Ukraine broke away from the USSR in 1991, the Kremlin tried to control its presidents, taking advantage of poor Ukrainian economy and offering sweetheart deals on natural gas in return for loyalty. As the people of Ukraine made it clear they were moving away from Putin’s corrupting influence, Putin moved his troops into Ukraine and took over Crimea. But he did not stop there. He has sent troops to Eastern Ukraine and is trying to bite off another big chunk of it. He wants the creation of a new region called “Novorossia” or “New Russia”. To permanently legitimize this, he has ordered all Russian history books to be re-written by the year of 2015 and focus specifically on Novorossia.
Russia have not officially declared war on Ukraine, but Putin sent some well-trained terrorists with prior experience in former Chechen and Georgian/North Ossetia conflicts. He has also sent thousands of young Russian conscripts from different parts of Russia. Many of them have no clue what is going on. Many believed they were sent to do military exercises. Many were forced to extend their contracts and go fight in Ukraine under threat of being called deserters if they refused. President Putin has gone from firmly denying any Russian military presence months ago, to saying that Russian soldiers captured in Ukraine were “lost.”
Russia believes Putin
While it is hard for you to fall prey to such outrageous lies, the vast majority of Russians (my family and families of all of my Russian friends who are still in Russia) have bought this lie – hook, line and sinker! The Russian television has unleashed the greatest propaganda offensive since the times of Stalin!
My own mother, who was planning on coming to live with us in America last December, changed her mind because “US is an aggressor and wants to move their NATO bases and attack Russia!” My friends’ mother, who was recently visiting her in US began spewing anti-american accusations the moment she landed in the airport, before asking how her grandchildren were doing! My kids’ violin teacher, who has lived-in US for many years enjoying many freedoms he cannot have in his home country, told me that “US has unleashed a Second Cold War and is spreading anti-Russian propaganda in its media.” It breaks my heart.
The problem is that they choose only to listen to state controlled Russian media. Because of this they will never learn that the humanitarian Russian convoy which drove around Ukraine for a week under false pretense of delivering humanitarian aid returned to Russia with hundreds of bodies of Russian and Chechen soldiers. The families of the fallen were ordered not to discuss anything and were threatened with ruin if they did. Many have been offered significant amounts of money not to reveal their sons died fighting in Ukraine. Journalists who investigated the “secret” burial of Russian soldiers returned by the humanitarian convoy have been beaten and harassed. The plates with the names of those soldiers have been removed from the grave markers.
Meanwhile, Putin enjoys the highest ever approval rating at home and is largely unopposed abroad because everyone is afraid of escalating the conflict with a nuclear power. That is why I believe this war is not going to end any time soon and people will continue to die.
Russians and Ukrainians are brother nations. Our cultures and traditions have been intertwined for generations. My father and his family were born in Ukraine. My mom and her family were born in Russia. Relatives on both sides have lived together for generations, enduring Tsars and Soviets. Even after USSR fell apart, no visas were required to travel back and forth from Russia to Ukraine.
Why do I write this?
First, I want to stand and declare to you that I strongly oppose what President Putin is doing to Russia and Ukraine. He is a totalitarian dictator! If I spoke these words in Russia, I could be thrown to jail. This is no exaggeration. It has happened and is happening today. But here in the US, I can speak my mind freely, without fear of criminal charges. Just like every German had a moral responsibility to take a stand during WWII, and every Muslim had to take a stand after 9/11, so every Russian ought to take a personal stand against Putin. I often wondered why more Muslim owners of shops and gas stations did not put announcements on their businesses “We do not support terrorism or Jihad”. I understand how difficult it is to stand against your culture and your heritage. Families are divided. Friendships are strained and broken. But it is the right thing to do.
Secondly, I want to ask for your help. Our family has started supporting Ukrainian pastors who are ministering in the midst of this war. They are serving the scarred and traumatized, the wounded, the homeless and poor. The pastors are specifically asking for warm winter clothing for people who have fled the war zones. Nearly 300,000 people have fled the Russian invasion with nothing but the shirts on their backs. Now the winter is coming and nearly 100% of the fuel for the winter is supposed to come from Russia. I don’t need to tell you what Putin will likely do to get his way.
Now that the Labor Day weekend is behind us, and many of you are putting away summer clothing, would you consider donating any winter items your family no longer needs? Winter clothing and shoes for adults and children, warm blankets, bedding and personal care items are of primary need. Another huge need is power tools used in construction. Churches are helping Ukrainians fix and rebuild their homes, orphanages and schools torn by explosions.
If you are cleaning out garage or basement and find tools you no longer use, we can ship those as well. It doesn’t matter if they are 110 or 220v.
Josh and I have been praying for this opportunity for weeks and the Lord has answered our prayer. We will be joining another church in shipping all this directly to a Ukrainian church for distribution. There is an amazing pastor, who has been laying his life daily and evacuating persons from dangerous war zones and bringing them to safety. He has also been distributing humanitarian aid.
You can bring the items to me after church for the next four weeks, as well as after our homeschool co-op. For those of you who are members of neither, I am willing to personally drive and pick these items up from your home. You can call me and we can arrange a time..
Friends, would you please help me? Often times we can be overwhelmed by the evil in this world. We might feel helpless and insignificant, unable to change anything. But remember the Oskar Schindlers, Brother Andrews, and the Corrie ten Booms. It is time for our generation to be like them – welcoming refugees, visiting the persecuted, taking care of the orphans.
Thank you for your help. Your friendship is very important to me. May God bless you!