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As tensions rise in Ukraine, Catholic bishops urge leaders to “refrain from hostilities”

Tactical training east of Ukraine border

EyePress via AFP

Zelda Caldwell - published on 01/24/22

The statement comes as the NATO Allies announced the deployment of forces in Eastern Europe.

The Catholic bishops of Poland and Ukraine called for leaders to “refrain from hostilities” as Russian-Ukraine tensions heighten.

“Drawing on the experience of previous generations, we call upon those in power to refrain from hostilities. War is always a failure of humanity,” wrote the bishops in a statement released Monday.

In their appeal, they recalled that “totalitarian regimes of the twentieth century led the world to the tragic experience of war and political terror while ignoring the authority of God.ˮ

“Today, too, we want to make it clear that any war is a tragedy and can never be an adequate means of solving international problems,ˮ they wrote. 

The bishops’ statement comes as NATO leaders respond to Russia’s military build-up in and around Ukraine. In recent days a number of NATO Allies, including Denmark, Spain, France and the Netherlands have announced that they are deploying forces in eastern Europe. 

The New York Times reported on Sunday that President Biden is considering deploying 1,000 to 5,000 troops in Eastern Europe as progress in talks between Russian and American officials seems to have stalled.

NATO Allies are responding to what is perceived as a growing Russian threat to Ukraine. According to the New York Times, Ukraine’s military intelligence services estimates that Russia has amassed 127,000 troops along the Russia-Ukraine border, with thousands more expected to soon arrive in Belarus.

The Ukrainian-Russian crisis began in 2014 when Russia invaded and annexed the Crimea peninsula. Despite a 2015 ceasefire, tensions with Russian-allied separatists in eastern Ukraine have escalated of late, and Ukraine has worked to build its own defenses. Russian President Vladmir Putin, in response to joint exercises between Ukraine forces and NATO, has demanded guarantees that NATO would not expanded any further into Eastern Europe.

The threat on our western borders is, indeed, rising, as we have said multiple times,” Putin said at a ceremony for ambassadors at the Kremlin in December. “In our dialogue with the United States and its allies, we will insist on developing concrete agreements prohibiting any further eastward expansion of NATO and the placement there of weapons systems in the immediate vicinity of Russian territory.”

Ukraine has been buying weapons through the United States, Britain, Lithuania, France and Turkey, according to Voice of America News. Last month the Biden administration approved $200 million in additional defensive security aid to Ukraine.

In a speech on Wednesday, as reported in the New York Times, Putin denied that Russia was threatening Ukraine, and said that he was taking “adequate military and technical measures” to respond to the increasing NATO presence near the Russian border.

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