Posted by: Fr Chris | March 16, 2014

Our Lady weeps over the suffering of God’s children on earth

An all-powerful leader decries problems in the adjoining state, and declares he must act so as to protect unarmed civilians against a cruel government, or an impotent government, or to answer their supposed pleas for assistance: 1912, 1938, 1940, 1945, 1956, 1968. One would think that the 21st century would never have seen that again in Europe – but here we go. And as then, Europe – and now America – does nothing of consequence.  Not even a firm protest!  Apparently very few people in our current government know much about Russian history, or the history of the Nazi and Soviet dictatorships, as we watch the farce of elections in Crimea under the presence of 20,000 Russian soldiers and a host of armored vehicles. Yesterday Russians took over a gas plant outside of Crimea, and Moscow announced that “numerous calls on Russia to protect peaceful civilians” inside Ukraine have been received and that “these appeals will be considered”   (Moscow Heightens the Pressure on Ukraine- Wall Street Journal, March 15, 2014).  Does any of this sound familiar?

1912 – Imperial Russia declares that, because of chaos inside the new Republic of China, it is annexing parts of Mongolia, despite the fact that the new Republic of Mongolia said that it did not want or need any Russian interference. 1936 – Hitler takes back the Rhineland, the Allies do nothing despite violation of Treaty.   1938 – 12 March: Hitler marches to the Austrian border so as to give Austria “peace” from its civil disorders, the Austrian government backs down for fear of bloodshed; Austria is annexed. Allies do nothing.  Hitler says he acts to protect German minorities outside of the Reich.

Hitler’s actions in Central Europe 1938-1939

29 September: Allies give German-inhabited Sudetenland, with all of Czechoslovakia’s fortresses, to Hitler as his “last demand.” 1939 – 15 March – Hitler invades defenseless Czechoslovakia. 21 March – Hitler demands Danzig Free State and direct link across Polish Corridor to East Prussia as a “last demand.” 1 September: Hitler accuses Poland of atrocities against German minority and invades. 3 September: France and Great Britain declare war. Pamphlets are dropped over the Third Reich calling for peace, but no military action is taken whatsoever.  Poland fights alone.   17 September: USSR invades Poland from the east, stabbing her in the back as she is fighting Nazi Germany in the west. This is allegedly done in order to “protect civilians” because the Polish government had supposedly collapsed, ignoring the fact that the Polish government and army are very much alive and fighting, waiting for France and the UK to act.  New People’s Assemblies are set up, which petition Stalin for annexation; he joyfully welcomes them to the Soviet motherland.  Poland is partitioned between the Nazis in the west and the Communists in the east. 

The Red Army frees Ukrainian and Belorussian peasants from the White Eagle of the Polish lords. 

To the north, the USSR forces the Baltic States to allow Soviet military bases to be established because of the fighting in Poland, and attacks Finland.  1940 – USSR blocks the ports of Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania and prevents their navies from sailing. “People’s Self-Defense” militias are set up by the communists along with Soviet troops and take over the three states. New elections are held under Moscow’s occupation, and over 90% vote in favor of the Soviets: vote results are released before the voting is finished. The new governments “voluntarily” ask for annexation by Stalin, who happily welcomes them. 1941 – 22 June, Hitler orders the invasion of the expanded USSR in a surprise attack.  Stalin is caught unprepared.  But Stalin will win in the end, defeating Hitler and establishing the Warsaw Pact, which put an enormous distance between Russia itself and any possible invasion from NATO in the west of Europe. 1944 – In October, Subcarpathian Rus’ is liberated from fascist rule by the Red Army. Czechoslovakia’s delegates fly in from Moscow to resume civic life in their easternmost districts and prepare to restore the Republic going westward from the province. But, the Soviets interfere and declare that the people must “choose” if they want unification with the USSR.   1945 – First (and only) Congress of the People’s Soviets of  Subcarpathian Rus’ is elected under Red Army occupation: over 90% of the votes are in favor of the Soviet delegates.  This body petitions Stalin for annexation to the USSR.  Stalin joyfully welcomes the province to be “rejoined” to Ukraine, a territory which had never ruled over Subcarpathian Rus’!


Blessed Theodore Romzha, bishop of my Byzantine Catholic Church in Subcarpathian Rus’ was executed by the Soviets in 1947 for his resistance to Stalin’s plans to destroy the Church. 

1945- The Allies order Poland to abandon hope of retrieving the one-fourth of the country annexed to Moscow in 1940, and instead clear out 5 million Germans from Silesia, East Prussia, West Prussia, Danzig and parts of Brandenburg and Pomerania to compensate Poland with these “Recovered Territories”, to which 2 million Polish refugees from the lost provinces came.  

Over 19 million people were forced out of their homelands in 1945-48 as Germans, Poles, and Ukrainians were driven out to find refuge elsewhere. 

1956, 1968, 1979 – USSR invades Hungary, Czechoslovakia, Afghanistan so as to “defend socialism.” 1994 – Ukraine surrenders her nuclear weapons in exchange for assurances that the US, UK and Russia will guarantee her permanent borders, as drawn out in 1991.  Ukraine says that these are guarantees, in 2014 the West says these were only assurances. 2000 – Russia begins distributing Russian passports to ethnic Russians in all of the countries along its borders: the Baltic States, Belarus, Ukraine, Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan.  With these passports, these people are guaranteed Russian protection.  Later, Tajikistan is forced to cede six military bases to 15,000 Russian troops.  2008 – Russia responds to Abkahazia and South Ossetia  after charges of civil unrest, and 5% of Georgians become refugees in their own country. The West protests, US sends ships into Black Sea, nothing happens, to this day as Russia occupies these two Georgian provinces. 2005 – Putin states: we should acknowledge that the collapse of the Soviet Union was a major geopolitical disaster of the century. As for the Russian nation, it became a genuine drama. Tens of millions of our co-citizens and co-patriots found themselves outside Russian territory. He went on to point out that Russia itself faced the threat of being destabilized, and paid a heavy price for this collapse.

See Map at top of blog! 

2014 – February: the Kazan Icon, Russia’s holiest image, is flown across the Black Sea in Putin’s private helicopter: to bless the Olympics in Sochi, or to bless future military operations against Ukraine?

28 February – Military actions against the Simferopol airport, blockade of the Ukrainian navy, and Russian Airborne forces arrive: occupation of Crimea begins. Yanukovych appears in Russia and suddenly Crimea is a victim of neo-fascist, anti-semitics, nationalist extremists who threaten the peace-loving Russians of the peninsula.  Russia acts in response to the cries of terrorized Russians and the so-called local militias in Russian uniforms with Russian armaments “appear.” 6 March – the Parliament votes “unanimously” in favor of joining Russia. However, media fail to report that the chamber was lined by armed soldiers, that the vote was called suddenly, and that the Ukrainian and Tatar delegates were unable to get to the building in time to have their say.  16 March – the highest election turnout since 1991 takes place, and 95.5% of all votes are for unification with Russia. The Crimean Tatars boycotted, as did most Ukrainians/ pro-Ukrainians, denouncing the election as illegal and without merit.

File:Crimean Tatar 2001-num.svgPercentage of Crimean Tatars in population of each raion of Crimea, 2001 

The question now is, what happens next? As I put this together, Russian troops have taken over a gas facility on the mainland, and there are “appeals” from Russian citizens (Ukrainian citizens with Russian passports) in Donetsk oblast for assistance. God only knows what is going to happen next – balkanization of Ukraine? And what will become of the Greek Catholics and Roman Catholics in Crimea who have been struggling for so long to get churches set up? And the Tatars, who have been returning home after 60 years in exile in Central Asia? And Ukrainian patriots, and the isolated Ukrainian military men and their families? I go to bed tonight once again praying for Ukraine’s sovereignty, and the opportunity to put the Euromaidan revolution into good government for the sake of all residents. Russia is still trying to find its place in the post-Cold War world; its population has been crashing with more deaths than births for decades, and a low life expectancy; and Russia fears the advance of NATO up to its borders in the Baltic Sea, bringing up memories of 1941 and the need for keeping the Russian homeland protected by buffer states. What will happen in this volatile mix? Again, God knows. All that I pray for is peace, peace, peace. The Ukrainian Greek Catholic and Roman Catholic Churches  have been in the forefront of calling for respect for human rights and an end to the kleptocracy of Yanukovych and his ilk, and of the need for democracy.  The Ukrainian Kyiv Patriarchate, and now the Metropolitan of the Moscow Patriarchate Church in Ukraine, also call for peaceful resolution and the opportunity for Ukrainian citizens to establish a democracy. I don’t know why the Kazan icon was flown over the Black Sea, but I hope that the prayers of Our Lady, which are always for peace, will be heard by those who have the power to change the course of history on earth below her.  Ukraine deserves better.

The dark green oblast at far left, Uzhhorod, is home of my Byzantine Catholic Church. This was annexed to USSR in 1945. 


  1. Thank you for this valuable article.

  2. What is the news source for Putin having the icon of Our Lady of Kazan flown over the Black Sea in February, 2014?

    • 1. Amir Taheri in a leading Arab language newspaper. But darned if I can now find another source for it! As far as I could find in an hour of Google, each one references Taheri as the source, or one of the stories which sources Taheri. So now, your question is prompting me to search further, both in Russian and English. If you or someone else finds other sources, or for that matter Taheri’s source, let me know. Thank you.

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