To the shock and concern of many, Russia under the leadership of President Vladimir Putin, has taken up its old role of destabilizing provocation, first invading Georgia, then the Crimean Peninsula and finally Ukraine itself.
With the 2014 takeover and occupation of Crimea, Russia regained a warm-water port—free from the limiting marine ice of Russia’s northern coasts—from which to launch its newly commissioned nuclear submarines and battle cruisers.
In December 1991 the world watched in amazement as the Soviet Union imploded. Almost overnight,15 separate countries emerged with almost no bloodshed. The Baltic Republics and Ukraine in particular wasted no time in freeing themselves from the USSR’s yoke. President Vladimir Putin believes his mission is to steer Russia toward its past glory as a global superpower, and the small nations of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania own beachfront on the Baltic Sea that Russia again covets.
In January 2015 the last Soviet leader and 1990 Nobel Peace Prize winner Mikhail Gorbachev warned, in an interview with the German magazine Der Spiegel, that growing tensions between Russia and European powers over Ukraine could erupt into major conflict, even a nuclear exchange.
Bible prophecy foretells the rise of a revived European-centered Roman Empire in the last days. And Russia’s recent actions have provoked serious discussion among European nations about turning from dependence on the United States for their safety and taking security matters into their own hands, including establishing a European military force.
As a result of the current conflict Germany’s chancellor Olaf Scholz has moved away from that country’s decades-old pacifist foreign policy. Besides canceling the highly lucrative and long-contested Nord Stream 2 natural gas pipeline (which would have allowed Russian gas to be piped directly to Germany, increasing Germany’s dependence on Russia for its energy needs), Scholz announced his government would be sending arms to Ukraine and increasing military spending by an additional €100 billion in 2022.
This period of great end-time calamity is foretold in many different Bible prophecies. Russia and China are now coming together in opposition to America and other Western powers. Well over 17,000 known nuclear weapons exist today. It’s been estimated that even a “small” regional nuclear exchange—limited to, say, a single exchange between Russia and Ukraine, between Iran and Israel or between India and Pakistan—could potentially render the entire world uninhabitable for human life.
In a lengthy prophetic outline of end-time events, Jesus Christ stated that in the last days before His return “there will be great distress [called in other translations “great tribulation”], unequaled from the beginning of the world until now” (Matthew 24:22, New International Version). He goes on to say that if those days are not “cut short, no one would survive” (verse 22, NIV). Ominously, human extinction through mass destruction is now possible! But here’s the good news for a world facing the specter of nuclear war and catastrophic devastation. Jesus then stated, “But for the sake of the elect [the people of God] those days will be shortened” (NIV).
The world has almost universally sunk to the basest levels of behavior, but we don’t need to live in fear or bury our heads in the sand. Our faith needs to be in the authoritative words of Jesus Christ our Savior. A time of restoration—for Russians, for Ukrainians, for all people—is coming. God promises: “I will pour out My Spirit on all flesh” (Joel 2:28), and wants us to change the way we think: “I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you” (Ezekiel 36:26). Only then will humanity turn from their own ways to seek God.