To Protect Ukrainians, Revive Religious Liberty in Ukraine

A Ukrainian-American pastor named Peter Pantazan needed some help rebuilding his church after former President Obama’s trade sanctions sent a wave of resentment and depression through the diaspora of nearly 900,000 Ukrainians in the U.S. I am not sure if the pastor remembers, but Obama thought he was doing something to build the pluralistic society that was crumbling on the edge of Europe when he denounced Russia’s seizure of Crimea in 2014.

Here’s what Obama tweeted on April 14, 2014:

I fully support Ukraine and stand with the people of Ukraine in their struggle to defend their democracy, their sovereignty, and their independence.

Do you think Obama might stop to wonder why America’s sanctions on Russia are not the strongest and impact more people when many Ukrainians consider themselves citizens of the West? I doubt it, but he might give it some thought if he saw Ukraine flaunting its independence and sovereignty by invading the self-described “Donetsk People’s Republic” in the future.

I am not certain where the pastor lives in the United States, but the thinking in Washington, D.C., has shifted from passing a new law to strengthen sanctions against Russia to fearing that the Ukrainian government might be invading and occupying its sovereign territory — or worse.

The Ukrainian government claims the zone of operation to be part of its territory in Ukraine. “The anti-terrorist operation” has become a common phrase among Western politicians and journalists — even though hardly anyone in Ukraine supports it, and even less so among the Russophone Ukrainians who make up the Russian-speaking majority of the country.

The 12 percent of Ukrainians who practice Christianity in the country is less than 20 percent of the total population of around 38 million. Even if it had the authority to expand that territory, the Ukrainian government would be wrong in claiming a right to do so because of a treaty that assigns the Ukrainian government jurisdiction over the territory that was acquired from Russia in 1920. Such an occupation would be a clear violation of the compact that Ukrainian authorities made with all their citizens.

There are some who say that the Ukraine that emerged after its 1991 collapse was an artificial construct and that the country’s political and governmental institutions failed — but not in a way that justified the killing of thousands and left thousands of ethnic Russians homeless and without homes. However, the societal deterioration was always there — evidence by the fact that hundreds of churches went unclaimed in the years after the break-up of the Soviet Union.

In an article in The New York Times published on June 17, a writer called Peter Pantazan uses another of Obama’s tweets to say that “President Obama’s lack of support could prevent Ukrainians from preserving their pre-World War II democratic heritage.”

What better way to help Ukraine than to change the law governing Ukraine so that religious liberty, and the freedom of religion, can be restored to a level that Russian President Vladimir Putin so firmly believes in and that his political opponents so vehemently decry?

Why stop there?

Why stop at revoking the rights of Ukrainian soldiers? What about property restitution from the current regime in Kiev to its “colonized” people?

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