Drawing the Line

GENYA SAVILOV/AFP/Getty Images)

Drawing the Line

The Ukrainian election crisis reveals two great empires on a collision course!
From the January 2005 Trumpet Print Edition

Of all the national election sagas in 2004, the epic thriller had to be Ukraine’s: voting fraud, Supreme Court action, international intervention, 100,000 protesters braving the cold in Kiev, even the poisoning of a candidate.

For several weeks, a country that hadn’t appeared on the global news radar for some time was suddenly the top story. People who barely gave Ukraine a thought suddenly realized how divided this country was.

But how many realize Ukraine’s strategic importance? What’s the deeper meaning behind the division? Why did Germany’s chancellor make a phone call to Russia’s president about the election crisis? How will this division affect global politics? Is it possible that this predicament will rend Ukraine right in half?

Division in any nation is normal, isn’t it? In so-called democratic societies, it is considered good—labeled as “diversity”; it presents, as John Milton termed it, a “marketplace of ideas” from which people can choose what they believe is best for their society.

So why is the division in the Ukraine so significant?

Ukraine’s opposition candidate, Viktor Yushchenko, wants closer ties with—even membership in—the European Union and nato. He represents the western side of the country. Incumbent Prime Minister Viktor Yanukovych—who largely represents eastern Ukraine—prefers stronger ties with Russia and accuses his opponent of being a fascist. On top of this mudslinging, as a now-facially-deformed Yuschenko also claims, representatives of Yanukovych’s administration tried to assassinate him by poisoning his food with dioxin.

After a close vote, Yanukovych’s government declared him the re-elected winner—action that brought congratulations from Russian President Vladimir Putin (on two occasions). But a strong opposition movement—with strong support from the U.S. and European nations—claimed the election was rigged. Ukraine’s Supreme Court agreed, annulled the results, and called for a new vote.

This outcome aggravated the pro-Russian east, which wants the West to stay out of its business. Local officials from nearly 20 eastern regions voted unanimously to hold referenda on whether they should seek autonomy from the central government.

Thus the election and its major platforms embodied the historic question—should Ukraine ally more with Europe or Russia? It also demonstrates the tension bound to arise between the great Western empire forming now in Europe, and the return to imperialism occurring in Mother Russia.

What the Ukrainian election crisis reveals is two great empires on a collision course! One is a resurrection of the age-old Roman Empire, the other a revival of czarist Russia. And, as always, Ukraine (its name can be translated “borderland”) is at the crossroads.

These events also reveal the collision course and coming religious line of demarcation—between Roman Catholicism and Eastern Orthodoxy!

Both Europe and Russia are waxing strong (along with their respective religions)—expanding their sphere of influence. Each time this has happened in the past, the proximity of these two powers has made a conflict between them inevitable. The fact that today this conflict is happening in Ukraine is simply another repetition of history. This isn’t the first time that Western and Eastern expansion have butted heads here.

In fact, the history of this area is another epic thriller—a microcosm of a tremendous tussle between East and West that will culminate once again in a cataclysmic conflagration.

Ukraine—Crossroad of Empires

One of the bloodiest wars in modern history was fought between 1853 and 1856 over Crimea, a strategic peninsula jutting into the Black Sea at the southern tip of Ukraine.

The Crimean War pitted an alliance of Britain, France and Austria against Russia. Of primary concern to Britain and Europe at the time was Russia’s steady expansion of its empire westward. It already had its main fleet stationed at the port of Sevastopol in the southern Ukraine peninsula of Crimea. With Russia’s every westward gain, the rest of Europe felt increasingly uncomfortable.

At issue, in addition to a territorial dispute, were two divergent religions: Roman Catholicism and Eastern Orthodoxy.

The crunch came when Czar Nicholas i decided to occupy Constantinople. This was untenable to the British, who saw it as a threat against their gateway to the overland route to India. Western allies defeated the czar’s troops, and Russia’s stronghold in the Crimea was rent from the czar’s grasp. The Russian empire’s drive westward was stemmed; the Treaty of Paris excluded Russian warships from the Black Sea.

Whereas it may be contended that Russia’s imperial aims ignited the Crimean War, the facts demonstrate that Germany was the instigator of a far greater conflict which, 58 years later, evolved into the Great War. Yet, similar to Crimea, World War i was initiated by Germany over an East-West confrontation. This time the flame was lit in Serbia.

After four years of horrific carnage in World War i, the antagonists concluded an armistice on Nov. 11, 1918; however, border conflicts continued. The Czechs and Austrians both wanted extra slices of the pie. Ukraine was occupied by the Austrian and German armies.

Meanwhile, on November 1, western Ukraine had been declared an independent republic by the last governor of Austria, Count Huyn, who armed the Ukrainians in support of this initiative. East and west Ukraine were united on January 22, 1919—only to witness the Red Army occupy Kiev on that very same day. By December, almost the entirety of Ukraine was in the hands of the Red Army. On Dec. 30, 1922, Ukraine became a component of the ussr.

Soon after, it was once again in German hands. In World War ii, the Nazi occupation of Ukraine was a real plum in Hitler’s expanding empire as he took Poland and Ukraine in his drive eastward toward Russia. His Nazi army, however, was to suffer a fate similar to that of Napoleon’s troops during the previous century. In 1945, as World War ii drew to an end, Russia’s army drove westward, rumbling right across Ukraine into Poland and clear up to Berlin. Ukraine was destined to become part of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics for the duration of the Cold War.

From Independence … to Partition?

As the 20th century waned, the implosion of the Soviet Union saw the dissolution of the multinational empire once created by the czars and Lenin. It broke up into its original national component parts, and Ukraine became an independent republic. Since then, Catholic western Ukraine has drifted toward affiliation with Western Europe, even actively seeking alignment with the European Union. Eastern Ukraine—the industrial heart, containing the highest concentration of population, and with its majority religion being Eastern Orthodox—remains loyal to Russia. Soon it became apparent that a line would have to be drawn between the eastward push of the German-dominated EU and Vladimir Putin’s reviving Russian empire. The Ukraine became the meat in this sandwich once again.

This time, much more is at stake than ever before in this competition between East and West. For what the world has yet to understand is that the first spark of the flame of the future, third and final great global confrontation was lit—a decade ago and for the third time—in Slavic Europe! And it was lit within the very same arena as the first—Serbia!

Back in the 1990s, enacting its very first foreign-policy decision following unification, the German government, supported by the Vatican, moved to immediately destabilize the Slav nations by giving public recognition to its old Catholic ally, Croatia, and also to the state of Slovenia, as sovereign nations separate from the rest of Yugoslavia. The result was an illegal war, sublimely uncondemned by the fickle and perverse United Nations, fought by Anglo-Americans under a nato umbrella on behalf of the chief benefactor of the war, the European Union. In the final analysis, the EU has had the entire Balkan Peninsula handed to it to administer as its first colonies! Now comes the end game in the EU’s eastward expansion, to be played out over Ukraine!

The breadbasket of the great Polish plain, the wealth of Ukraine’s primary resources, the industrial strength of the eastern Ukraine, the size of Ukraine’s population, the stationing of the old Soviet Black Sea fleet in its ports, and not the very least, the siting of nuclear weapons in Ukraine—these are powerful bargaining chips in this tussle between East and West. In the end, it will probably come down to a deal between Russia and Germany, with Germany having the advantage of being by far the largest single investor in Russia’s reviving economy.

As Hitler’s blitzkrieg swept east across the great Polish plain to descend upon Ukraine in December 1941, the German minister of economics, Walter Funk, declared that this “promised colonial land had become accessible to European expansion.” Today’s German-dominated EU, with a compliant U.S. supporting the process, now exerts maximum diplomatic pressure on President Putin to come to the table and decide Ukraine’s future.

There may yet be an East-West divide in Ukraine. Will the Dnieper be the natural dividing line? Only time will tell. But the present turmoil in Ukraine may not only see the dividing line ultimately drawn between the EU and Russian empires. It may also be the catalyst that creates a Russo-German alliance, similar to the Molotov-Ribbentrop pact prior to World War ii, in an attempt by each country to limit incursion by either across the dividing line between the two.

Battle for the Soul

In the middle of all this will be religion. The Ukraine suffers from an identity crisis. As Dr. George Friedman masterfully pointed out in an astute analysis of the Ukraine question, “The political crisis in Ukraine is a battle for the country’s soul (Stratfor, Dec. 2, 2004). With a predominantly Catholic population leaning to Rome in the West, and Orthodox worshipers still looking toward Moscow in the East, Ukraine is a veritable crunch point of competing civilizations—and not for the first time.

If we look at the ethnically and religiously diverse Balkans, it was inevitable that its breakup would occur down religious lines of Catholicism and Orthodoxy. Is Ukraine destined to end up the same way—with cartographers once again redrawing Europe’s borders? Provinces in the eastern, Russian-speaking, Orthodox side of Ukraine are already threatening to secede! And no matter who ends up being president, the proverbial can of worms has been opened. The division will come to a head soon—especially as Europe and Russia grow in strategic influence and their grand strategies begin to conflict. The Bible even prophesies that the peoples of Elam and Media (see sidebar, page 9) will play a part in the downfall of the final resurrection of the Babylonish Holy Roman Empire (Isaiah 21:2).

You need to watch events as they play out in Eastern Europe! At issue is the future of global order. The stakes could hardly be higher!

Ukraine’s future is held in the balance. But not for long. Soon the line will be drawn between rising imperial Russia and the eastward spreading, reviving, old Holy Roman Empire, in its present guise of the EU. What you see playing out in Ukraine will seal the fate of millions—a fate, in the short term, far, far worse than anything that the first two rounds of world war ever witnessed.

Thank God that after this holocaust, peace will finally reign under the sway of the only power with real and tangible hope to guarantee it, the very Prince of Peace Himself!