13 Thoughts on Putin and Ukraine

Updated: Feb 28

Unless you live in a hole, of course you know that Vladimir Putin has sent Russian troops into Ukraine to occupy it—what Putin calls, “liberators.” I won’t rehash the news of the past few days, but just make a few comments. From my perspective as someone who once lived in Ukraine.

1. Putin is not a good guy. Some people are thinking, “I must be missing something. Why would a man risk so many lives to invade a peaceful country?” Well, there is always more to the story, but not that much more—not that would come close to giving Putin a justifiable reason for invading Ukraine.

2. Putin is personally worth an estimated $2 billion. You might wonder how he got so rich, having never worked in the private sector. He runs his own state sponsored mafia and gets millions of dollars from oligarchs. Of course, this money is not in his name, but he has access to it when he needs it.

3. I lived in Ukraine for a year and I have visited many times since. Ukraine and Russia are very similar, but I did notice that when there was an initial revival in both countries after the collapse of the Soviet Union, that the Ukrainian revival lasted long after the Russian one dissipated. There is still a great move of the Holy Spirit in many parts of Ukraine.

4. It is true that in eastern Ukraine, neighboring Russia, there are many people who identify as more Russian than Ukrainian. I don't know what the percentages are. But it was based on that fact, that Putin invaded in 2014 and took small patches of territory. Of course, small can represent millions of people. Any recent map will show you the eastern areas and Crimea.

5. Putin is a master at propaganda and a lifelong spy. He cut his teeth at the KGB. He is trying to convince the Russian people, Ukraine is run by neo-Nazis who are persecuting ethnic Russians and committing genocide. If that were true, then he would be justified in coming to liberate the people. But President Zelensky was elected by a 73% majority. And as for being a Nazi, he is Jewish. One of the very definitions of antisemitism is calling a Jew a Nazi. In fact, three of his grandfather's brothers died in the Holocaust.

6. By now Putin must be growing frustrated because Ukraine did not roll over. This was supposed to be a clean and quick operation. Who could stand against the great Russian army? But Ukrainians are willing to fight to the death. And now that they are arming civilians, they will conduct guerrilla warfare against the invading Russians. This is how the Israeli “irgun” fought the British army in pre-1948 Israel. They never targeted civilians, but they unleashed deadly bombings on those they considered occupiers. The British, despite being better equipped, did not have the stomach to stay, and packed up their bags and left in May 1948.

7. Reports are that many more Russians have died than Ukrainians. Keep in mind statistics like this are almost impossible to verify. But there's something you have to understand about Russian warfare. Their greatest weapon is the fact that they are willing to sacrifice thousands upon thousands of soldiers’ lives to win a conflict. This is how they defeated the German army during World War II. They simply just sent millions of soldiers to die until they overwhelmed the German army. May 9th, which is my birthday, is also Victory Day in Russia where they remember the 20 million soldiers who died in battle during World War II. My point is Putin would not lose a wink of sleep to lose 100,000 soldiers, if he wins the war.

8. At a certain point, the combination of killing people and being a national leader for a long period of time, leads someone to become demonized (in many cases). I have no doubt that Vladimir Putin is being harassed by demons just like King Saul. It doesn't mean he's not smart. It does not mean he can't be in his sound mind at times. But when it comes to survival, he will go to an illogical point. I could list off the names of hundreds of leaders who became so obsessed with power, greed and bloodlust that they gave into demonic powers. Saddam Hussein and Momar Gaddafi come to mind. As well as Herod in the gospel narrative. We need to pray that he does not give in to demonic urges to use weapons of mass destruction.

9. No one in the West was prepared for the bravery of the average Ukrainian. President Zelensky is a true leader who has refused US overtures to get him to safety. I can only imagine how much this means to the average Ukrainian hoping to simply survive. And I know it means a lot to the Ukrainian army. It was also encouraging to see former president Petro Poroshenko on the streets and armed with others. Poroshenko is a billionaire and could easily get out of Ukraine. At only 56, he has lots of life left to live. But he is defiant in the face of a Russian invasion.

10. Another justification for Putin is the fact that NATO has grown. Ukraine would love to be in NATO. And that would put NATO on Russia’s border from four different countries, as the smaller Baltics already are members. But NATO has never been an offensive force. They exist 100% for defensive purposes. So if you’re not belligerent, you have nothing to fear. I think there is some truth to this being part of Putin’s justification, but the growth of NATO is also a constant reminder of the fall of the Soviet/Russian empire, which has shrunk considerably. Chunks of that former empire are now considered part of the Western alliance. He would love nothing more than to restore Russia to her former glory.

If Ukraine had been admitted into NATO, we would be in a World War right now, as NATO is bound to protect every member and to join a war effort of any member. On the other hand, if Ukraine were a member of NATO, it's highly likely that Putin would not have attacked.

11. The problem for Putin is Zuckerberg. And by that I mean social media in general. Social media has elevated the average person worldwide. There was a time not long ago when every Russian would just believe what they were told. And if they didn't believe it, they would be quiet about it. When we lived in Ukraine as a loud American Israeli family, we could not help but notice how quiet everyone was on the streets. We were told that it was a leftover product of communism. You don't ever draw attention to yourself. But in 2022, we have Facebook, Twitter, #MeToo, phones with cameras and Instagram. Putin cannot just spin his way through this war—by making up claims of genocide and calling Jews Nazis. Videos will get out. For instance, yesterday, Russia's foreign minister said that they were not targeting any civilian targets. The pictures of Ukrainian apartment buildings with large sections destroyed will refute that. The Number 7 tennis player in the world, a Russian, called for an end to fighting yesterday after his match. People are more willing to speak up than ever before. Social media has not evened the playing field, but it has changed the landscape quite a bit.

12. When we lived in Ukraine I did not sense any deep animosity between Ukrainians and Russians. In many aspects, we saw them as the same. Every Ukrainian is fluent in Russian, even though the average Russian does not speak Ukrainian. Until recently, there was much harmony between the two peoples. The more and more atrocities are filmed and leaked into Russia, the more and more the people of Russia will turn against their leader. Or at least I am hopeful.

13. Unlike normal democratic states, where protest and dissent is not only welcomed but encouraged, in Russia it is illegal. On the night the war began, the Russian authorities arrested any and all who would protest against this illegal invasion—some 1,700 people. That act alone speaks volumes about who is right and who is wrong.

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Shalom from Israel! I am Ron Cantor and this my blog. I am the GODTV Israel Regional Director host of the daily TV program, "Out of Zion". I also serve on the leadership team of a Hebrew-speaking, Spirit-filled congregation in Tel Aviv. We love Yeshua and we love Israel. Hope to see you here soon!

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