A Joint Statement on the Russian Invasion of Ukraine

A Joint Statement on the Russian Invasion of Ukraine

As we witness the tragedy of the Russian invasion of Ukraine, which began late last week we are seeing the destruction of lives, homes, and communities. We mourn that, yet again, the desire for power, control, and expansion has taken precedence over respect for human lives, livelihood, and dignity. We condemn in the Russian initiative to occupy and annex Ukrainian lands and populations, in contradiction to principles of international law that deem the acquisition of territory by force illegal.

We lament that diplomacy was so swiftly dismissed as a viable option to resolve differing claims and assertions, and that human rights are so callously violated. Russia and its leaders, including and especially Mr. Putin, must be held accountable in ways that respect international institutions and laws.

We oppose any further militarization of the conflict by Russia, as well as by NATO, the United States, and other parties, recognizing the right of Ukrainians to resist the assault on their homeland. Even so, de-escalation is required, not heightened belligerency.

We acknowledge the intent of sanctions being imposed on Russia. However, we are concerned though targeted and specifically applied they may be, these sanctions could have a disproportionate impact on the general population, causing hardships the poorer segments will not be able to endure.

We are inspired by the outpouring of care, support, and generosity that the more than one million Ukrainian and Russian refugees are experiencing in their time of need. Leading in the headlines is the open borders of European countries, welcoming Ukrainians as they flee their homes looking for safety and shelter. Lesser known and acknowledged are the barriers and obstacles being placed on people at those same borders and the abusive violence and discrimination being experienced by Africans, Middle Easterners and other foreign nationals who are a part of the increasing numbers of internally displaced persons (IDPs) stranded within Ukraine. We implore the international community to use everything in its power to protect the most vulnerable. 

The Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) and United Church of Christ condemn the racism and discrimination being evidenced during this time of crisis. The denial of access to safety and shelter for Africans, Middle Easterners, and others is deplorable. Preventing ethnic non-Ukrainians from crossing into European countries is racist and it must be named as such. It is a denial of human rights, dignity and respect which should be afforded to all people. 

We join with partners in the United States and around the world, including the All Africa Council of Churches and the African Union, in calling for open borders to all, including Africans living in Ukraine; students from Asia, Africa, the Middle East, and the Caribbean; and others to have the right to leave Ukraine safely. This inhumane and discriminatory treatment must cease.

We recognize the widespread impact of this conflict on other regions of the world, including countries that rely on imports of grains and energy sources from Ukraine, and know if the crisis is not resolved, the global poor will be most directly affected.

We appeal to world leaders to work diligently and immediately to bring this conflict to an end. We urge them to recognize and apply international law justly to the many situations of conflict around the world. In places that witness similar violations of human rights we ask that world leaders give urgent attention to finding resolutions.

O God of justice and of compassion, in this season of Lent, we pray that our warring ways may be forgotten, replaced with the hope of life in all its abundance for all people. Amen.

As we pray together for peace and justice,

Rev. Dr. John Dorhauer
General Minister and President
United Church of Christ
Rev. Teresa Hord Owens
General Minister and President
Christian Church (Disciples of Christ)
Rev. Dr. Karen Georgia A. Thompson
Associate General Minister
Wider Church Ministries, UCC 
Co-Executive, Global Ministries
Rev. Marco Cable
Division of Overseas Ministries, Disciples
Co-Executive, Global Ministries

For more updates and statements on the ongoing situation in Ukraine, go to this page.