A serious threat of another World War


I have been asked by people to share my thoughts about this present-day crisis in Eastern Europe, which could easily escalate to other nearby nations.

War is a terrible evil plaguing our lost, sinful world, and it’s really hard to understand all the nuances that lead to a total breakdown of government-to-government relationships.

Europe’s Biggest humanitarian disaster since WWII

There are differing perspectives as to long-term and short-term causes, and it can be terribly emotive when we see war’s awful consequences on the innocent. At present, we all are deeply grieving over the senseless slaughter in Ukraine, and the harrowing images on our screens drive us to our knees in prayer.

CRC Churches International, the movement I’m a part of, has some significant contacts in Poland, and we are looking at how we can raise some funds to support them as they care for the refugees flooding across the border.

A second great love after Jesus and his Church is learning the lessons of history.

The UN is estimating that more than five million people may flee to Poland, Slovakia, Hungary, Romania, Moldova, and other countries that border Ukraine. It already is the biggest humanitarian/refugee disaster in Europe since World War II.

A second great love after Jesus and his Church is learning the lessons of history. Over the decades these lessons have encouraged me in my various leadership roles, and I’ve included in my teaching historical anecdotes and stories to help me better understand the present.

Above all these worldly problems, it’s important to remind ourselves as Christ-followers that Jesus is sovereign over all things and outworks his will and purpose in spite of man’s inhumanity and evil. The great hope all believers have is one day HE will return to earth and finally wrap up the issue of sin, injustice and evil.

What a day of rejoicing it will be when Jesus our prince of peace takes charge in person, and reorders and heals our spiritually sick planet!

I try (rather imperfectly) to give opinions on really difficult and at times controversial issues without taking sides in political fights.

My primary task as a church leader is to proclaim the answer to human evil, which is Jesus and his saving grace and mercy towards all.

A personal perspective on the crisis in Eastern Europe

I now want to share my perspective and honest opinions on this present crisis in Eastern Europe.

I’m happy for others to disagree and accept an alternative narrative.

It’s self-evident that no one can be totally free from bias, as our worldview colours how we see events. An honest appraisal of what is actually happening on the ground is difficult because truth in reporting is usually the first casualty of war.

Nevertheless, you may find my thoughts helpful to better understand this awful war, and how in the world it actually got to this. Historians, for example, are still debating the causes of WWI, and its direct link to WWII.

In my former life, I taught about the causes of WWI, WWII, the Cold War, the US Civil War and the Vietnam War, and I’m still trying to keep up-to-date about the causes of these world-changing cataclysmic wars. Perspectives change among our top historical researchers over time as archival material is found and released; one such shift is occurring thanks to the old Soviet archives pre-President Mikhail Gorbachev, and especially during the collapse of Soviet Communism in the late 80s and early 90s.

During President Boris Yeltsin’s ten years in power in the 1990s, Russia opposed NATO attacking Serbia (a close fellow Slavic/Eastern Orthodox nation) without UN sanction. More recently in 2011, NATO attacked Libya and destroyed its government and armed forces to many people’s dismay, especially the Russians, as it reinforced their negative view of NATO.

What’s galling to the Russians is the spurious argument that NATO is a purely defensive organisation, and will only act if a member nation is attacked.

They found NATO’s actions in Serbia, Afghanistan and Libya over the past 30 years totally offensive, and this has reinforced Russia’s suspicion and fear.

On the other hand, the Russians argue they were asked for help by the government of Syria in 2015, based on a treaty between them.

They then proceeded to mercilessly destroy the militant Islamists and any group opposing the Assad regime. Syria today is a functioning nation, though it has significant internal divisions, but Russia is its protector.

Libya is still a highly fractured place because NATO radically expanded a UN Security Council peace initiative to help resolve its civil strife. NATO’s mission creep was blatantly opportunistic and it inflamed Russia’s concern about NATO coming closer to its borders.

It’s hard for our governments to condemn what Russia is doing in Ukraine.

Russia endorsed, through the UN Security Council, the US and NATO’s invasion of Afghanistan in 2001, which could fit into the ‘just war’ category, as was the case in the war against Nazism and Japanese militarism in the 1940s.

However, this can’t be argued for the US’s invasion of Iraq in the early 2000s with Britain’s and Australia’s help. It’s hard for our governments to condemn what Russia is doing in Ukraine when we went in and demolished the Iraqi government and state structures with shocking consequences on the innocents. Iraq is now pacified and nominally pro-US, and it looks like the Russians are going to do the same in Ukraine.

It’s all evil and can never be justified, but this is the way of our anti-Christ world that selfishly uses violence and retribution as a means of getting its own way. It’s so opposite to the values of Jesus’ kingdom of reconciliation, forgiveness, grace, peace and love.

Russia’s attitude to war

It needs to be understood that Russia has always been absolutely ruthless at war. They defeated Nazism pretty well on their own and more recently, under both Presidents Yeltsin and Putin, destroyed the Islamist and nationalist separatists of Chechnya in the 1990s/early 2000s at a terrible price for the innocent civilian population. The same has been done in the previous Soviet republics of Georgia, East Ukraine and the Crimea over the past 15 years or so. Thousands of people were killed in these incursions and tragically they are following the same pattern in this Ukraine war.

Most people don’t realise – and many ill-informed journalists and high government officials are simply ignoring – that over the past 30 years the Russian government expressly warned the US and NATO not to move East into their previous USSR territories. President Gorbachev amazingly gave permission for East Germany to be incorporated into West Germany and NATO in the early 1990s. However, it was with the express understanding that NATO would not take any advantage in the previous Warsaw Pact countries of Eastern Europe they controlled since 1945, if the Soviet Union freed them.

This concern and fear about being encircled by hostile powers from the West were especially true in the previous Tsarist and Soviet areas Russia governed for hundreds of years. These lands covered the 15 republics of the USSR, constructed by Lenin after his Bolshevik revolution in 1917.

I think US Presidents Clinton, Bush Jnr and Obama, due to pure hubris because the US won the Cold War and Russia was on its knees in the 1990s and early 2000s, foolishly and insensitively broke President Bush Snr’s agreement with the Russians.

It is waging a cruel war against a fellow Slavic country that is culturally similar and religiously Orthodox, and I unequivocally condemn it.

This produced the mess we are now in, which is seriously provoking an isolated, insecure, suspicious, mistrustful and paranoid Russian government under a relentless and resentful Putin, who has a track record of responding in a most brutal way with his enemies.

What I’m saying is not to excuse the evil the Russian government is now perpetrating.

It is waging a cruel war against a fellow Slavic country that is culturally similar and religiously Orthodox, and I unequivocally condemn it.

What makes this particularly frightening is that Russia is armed with thousands of technologically updated nuclear weapons. What’s even scarier, they have intimated it will use them if other nations try to halt its mission in what it sees as ‘its near abroad’ on the borders of Russia. It’s sheer madness to keep provoking this bear and pushing it into a corner with no exits, where it lashes out indiscriminately.

It’s sheer madness to keep provoking this bear and pushing it into a corner with no exits.

The closest we got to this most dangerous state was in 1962 during the Cuban missile crisis. In my book The Leader I Can Be, there’s an expose on lessons learned through this crisis. Unbelievably, today’s government leaders are ignoring the way President Kennedy wisely de-escalated the crisis to ensure no miscalculation could lead to a nuclear exchange.

Relations between countries have radically changed for nuclear-armed nations in this atomic age. There is no comparison with the pre-World War II slow working negotiating strategy, as now both Russia and the US with their thousands of nuclear weapons can wipe each other off the map with hundreds of millions of casualties in less than an hour.

Can you imagine (though it’s highly unlikely) if China or Russia got permission to build military bases with offensive nuclear weapons in Canada or Mexico, or anywhere in Central and South America, or the Caribbean. The Western Hemisphere is America’s universally accepted sphere of influence.

We all know it would not stand, as the US has ruthlessly invaded or forced nations to change governments, and at times even colluded in trying to assassinate some leaders in Mexico, Cuba, Honduras, Haiti, Guatemala, Guyana, Chile, Dominican Republic, Grenada, Panama, Nicaragua, and other countries it sees as its legitimate geographical backyard.

The Russians lost nearly 40 million soldiers and civilians by the German invasions of Kaiser Wilhelm and Adolf Hitler in WWI and WWII. This is why they will not allow their sphere of influence to continue to be encroached on by the US and NATO, as occurred from 1997 soon after Clinton was re-elected US President.

To only condemn Russia and not the US’s past behaviour is hypocrisy of the first order.

The US in its Western Hemisphere has acted and will act in the future against a government that may be democratically elected. The Russians are now doing the same with the democratically elected Ukraine government. Both these world powers are unapologetic about such blatant injustice against nations and most people and nations think it is wrong. To only condemn Russia and not the US’s past behaviour is hypocrisy of the first order.

I say this as a strong supporter of the US/Australia/New Zealand ANZUS Alliance, but it must be acknowledged that the US has made huge mistakes, as occurred in Vietnam in the 1960s and 70s. Millions of people needlessly perished due to their misguided war in this Southeast Asian region.

Other voices

There are some brilliant historians who have been warning of the present reality, but sadly have not been listened to.

Previous Deputy Prime Minister John Anderson has an informative interview on YouTube with Professor Victor Hansen Davis, author of The Dying Citizen, which covers the Ukraine war.

Professors Stephen Cohen and John Mearsheimer are two highly respected historians, and you can download their lectures at Yale and other prestigious universities from YouTube.

The Hill program with Kim Iverson on YouTube has a 15-minute segment called ‘Ukraine Will Be Wrecked’ featuring these two experts.

They shared almost prophetically in 2010 and 2015 about the inevitable war Russia will unleash on Ukraine if the US and NATO continue in their insensitive, foolish arrogant ways of pushing their military hardware closer to Russia.

A massive miscalculation can easily take place, resulting in a world war with the almost unthinkable possibility of nuclear weapons.

What the US has done in the past and Russia is now doing is plainly wrong and evil. However, our politically divided, self-centred and violent world has accepted that this is the price we pay for having giant military and nuclear-armed superpowers that hold sway in their geographical areas. China is now following the US and Russia’s example in what it sees as its natural sphere of influence in Asia and areas of the Pacific, and even Australia is vulnerable.

The UN, other international organisations and courageous national heads of government must try to de-escalate this crisis and build new bridges of communication among all the protagonists. This is so important as a massive miscalculation can easily take place, resulting in a world war with the almost unthinkable possibility of nuclear weapons being used for the first time since 1945.

Barbara Tuchman argues in her classic book The Guns of August that this type of miscalculation is exactly what happened in 1914 when Europe was plunged into a disastrous world war.


Pastor Bill Vasilakis is the National Chairman, CRC Churches International and Senior Minister, Christian Family Centre Churches



Some prayer points to help

“Lord Jesus, may this evil war not escalate, and that wise heads will humbly come together, talk through the issues, and seek to understand and empathise with each other’s respective views/positions. Help them, Holy Spirit, to embrace an accommodating attitude, so they can negotiate a legitimate compromise and come up with a binding peace agreement.

Loving Heavenly Father, have mercy on all the families of those innocents killed and injured, and enable the Church of your dear Son to care for the traumatised and the refugees.”