A Christian missionary from America who has lived in Ukraine for two decades says in an email to The Foundry that he is preparing to evacuate his family from the Kiev area because Russian President Vladimir Putin is expected to order troops to invade deeper into the nation within days.
“At the moment a full-scale invasion of Ukraine looks imminent,” the Rev. Gerard D. “George” de Vuyst wrote early today. “According to several experts, Russia is expected to invade the East of Ukraine … in the coming days.”
In the latest in a series of emails to The Foundry from near the Ukraine capital of Kiev (which he spells Kyiv), de Vuyst writes:
“It is clear that Russia is behind the violence and ‘uprisings’ in Eastern Ukraine. It is also clear that Ukraine will have great difficulty defending itself against Russian aggression. Just about every analysis of Putin’s character and movements point to a full-scale invasion and an attack on Kyiv.”
The evacuation for which the pastor for Christian Reformed World Missions, his wife Sarah and their three children have prepared now appears certain.
“Since the situation looks to continue to deteriorate, with heavy hearts we have decided that we will need to evacuate,” de Vuyst, 43, writes. “Our hearts are breaking for our dear Ukrainian friends who are living through this nightmare and have no place to go.”
“This is being done at gunpoint,” the pastor from Grand Rapids, Mich., wrote. “Unmarked Russian troops have taken over the entire peninsula. The government was dismissed and a known criminal with the nickname ‘Goblin’ has taken over. The people are terrified and the Ukrainian troops in Crimea are surrounded and have showed incredible bravery by resisting all provocations from the Russian troops.
“Over the past week,” he added, “four pro-Ukrainian activists in Crimea have disappeared. Several reporters trying to report on the situation in Crimea have been arrested, beaten and had their equipment confiscated by what have now become known as ‘little green men’ (‘unidentified’ soldiers that have taken over Crimea and are widely known to be Russian). The friend of one of our partners was viciously beaten by the Russian soldiers guarding one of the roads entering the Crimea from Ukraine.
“Yesterday [Thursday] pro-Russian thugs bused in from Russia attacked and beat up peaceful pro-Ukrainian demonstrators in Donetsk.” He added:
“One 22-year-old young man was stabbed to death. He was a local pro-Ukrainian party leader. Around 50 others were hospitalized. This is the type of conflict Russia is trying to create in Ukraine in order to justify its full-scale invasion. The entire 25-minute brawl in Donetsk was caught on camera and is clearly caused by the pro-Russian demonstrators. Even so, the Putin propaganda machine has been twisting the scene all day long and trying to shift the blame to ‘Ukrainian ultra-nationalists and fascists.’
In today’s email, de Vuyst describes more peaceful activities Sunday, when “Christians from all confessions gathered at city and town squares all over Ukraine to pray for peace and for God to intervene in the crises. … The people feel helpless in the face of such overwhelming aggression from Russia and are crying out to God.”
Here is George de Vuyst’s complete e-mail today to The Foundry and its readers:
“The situation does not look good. At the moment a full-scale invasion of Ukraine looks imminent. According to several experts, Russia is expected to invade the East of Ukraine (Kharkov, Donetsk, Lugansk, possibly Zaporizha, Kherson and Odessa regions) in the coming days.
“Currently there has been filed a lawsuit in Donetsk against the current [Ukraine] government, claiming [it] is illegitimate because it didn’t follow the letter of the law concerning the dismissal of the previous president [Viktor Yanukovich]. That then means that the acting president, [Oleksandr] Turchinov (a Baptist pastor), exceeded his authority as speaker of the parliament and could be arrested.
“This court case is explained in detail by Mychailo Wynnyckyi, a professor at the top Ukrainian university and a part of the Ukrainian diaspora who returned to his ancestral homeland to help it rebuild. Dr. Wynnyckyi also predicts an invasion of Kyiv on the 19th (no later than the 25th) that will likely include aerial bombardment.
“As I said, the situation does not look good. We pray that God would intervene and that the good people here would be able to live in peace and security.
“The referendum in Crimea was clearly falsified. Any objective study of the numbers that are being thrown around by Russia and Crimea clearly shows the absurdity of it. It is clear that Russia is behind the violence and ‘uprisings’ in Eastern Ukraine. It is also clear that Ukraine will have great difficulty defending itself against Russian aggression. Just about every analysis of Putin’s character and movements point to a full-scale invasion and an attack on Kyiv.
“Yesterday at 16.00 Ukrainian time (10.00 EST), Christians from all confessions gathered at city and town squares all over Ukraine to pray for peace and for God to intervene in the crises. The overflow of the criminal regime of Yanukovich was covered in prayer. The people feel helpless in the face of such overwhelming aggression from Russia and are crying out to God.
“At the same time they are wondering about where the international community is. They were promised security guarantees, but nobody seems ready to put muscle behind the promises. So the nation is crying out to God, who holds the hearts of the kings in his hands. Lord have mercy on Ukraine!
“Since the situation looks to continue to deteriorate, with heavy hearts we have decided that we will need to evacuate. We have been continuing to monitor the situation and to prepare ourselves for evacuating. Our hearts are breaking for our dear Ukrainian friends who are living through this nightmare and have no place to go.
“So we call the world to join us on our knees before the King of Kings. Please pray for peace in Ukraine. Pray for truth and justice to prevail. Pray for the lies and deceit of the evil one to be exposed. Pray for the leaders of Ukraine; they need wisdom that only God can provide. Pray for the people of Russia who are also subject to a tyrant who keeps them in bondage to his whims and lies; may God give them eyes to see the truth and ears to hear it.
“Pray for the leaders of Russia and especially for Putin, that God would change their hearts and minds — for a miracle of transformation that only God can do. We would love to be able to call Putin a brother in Christ instead of an evil dictator. For God, all things are possible!
“I know that there is so much more to say, but with all the stress and pressures of the given situation, this is what is on our heart.”
This story was produced by The Foundry’s news team. Nothing here should be construed as necessarily reflecting the views of The Heritage Foundation.