Sunday, June 26, 2022

    Metropolitan Epifaniy’s address to Ukrainian nation over new Russian invasion threat

    Russia’s military buildup near the borders of our state, the spread of information about the aggressor’s plans to launch an invasion, other hostile statements and actions by Russian leaders require our response.

    First of all, it should be emphasized that Russia has already invaded Ukraine – this happened in the winter of 2014 with an attack by “little green men” in Crimea. While not officially declared by the Kremlin, Russia’s actual war against Ukraine has been going on for eight years already. Among consequences of this war are the occupation of Crimea and parts of Donbas, daily shelling of Ukrainian territory by Russian forces, constant hybrid attacks by Russia in economic, diplomatic, informational, religious, and other domains.

    The purpose of this aggression is clear and obvious: to turn our whole country, or at least most of it, into an occupied territory ruled on behalf of the Kremlin by traitors, terrorists, and criminals; to push Ukraine into the abyss into which Russia pushed Crimea, Donetsk, and Luhansk; at our expense, to try to resurrect the rotten corpse of the Soviet monster, the prison of nations, the empire of evil; and to force the free peoples of Europe to submit to the wishes of the Kremlin’s current leaders.

    It’s a historical fact that Ukraine, faced by much worse conditions in 2014-2015, successfully repulsed the aggressor’s encroachments as they even intended to create the ‘Novorossiya’ entity on our lands from Kharkiv to Odesa. What’s more, with a renewed and capable Army, with the unwavering support of our allies among democracies around the world, we are able to successfully repel the attacker and thwart their plans.

    We are sincerely grateful to America, European nations, and all our allies around the world for their support, diplomatic, economic, and military assistance. The lessons of the past clearly show that appeasing the aggressor, the attempt to “understand” it, to “take into account” its whims don’t lead to peace but to bigger appetites and increased aggression. This was the case on the eve of World War 2. Nations paid a terrible price for the mistakes of that period. We hope that these bitter lessons have been learned and conclusions – drawn from them.

    For the Ukrainian people, the words of the national anthem “We will lay down our souls and bodies for our freedom” are not empty words, but a deep conviction, affirmed by centuries of struggle for their own independent unified state. For more than 350 years under Moscow’s rule, we have suffered greatly from imperial and Soviet slavery. The enslavement of Ukrainians and liquidation of Cossacks, eradication of national consciousness, a wave of repression and famine, including the horrific crime of genocide of 1932-1933, and spiritual occupation due to the annexation of the Ukrainian Church – we remember all this too well and will not let the past repeat!

    Dear brothers and sisters, fellow citizens!

    We, the Ukrainian people, do not want anything belonging to others, but only protect what’s ours: our fathers’ land, our home, family, and neighbors. Therefore, the truth is on our side. And wherever truth is, there is God’s help and victory.

    The enemy wants to intimidate us, pit us against each other, force Ukrainians to destroy their homes with their own hands, as has happened many times in our past. Realizing this, we must maintain common sense, not succumb to provocations, and leave any internal minor disputes aside in the face of external threats.

    In unity lies our strength!

    The aggressor attacks when it hopes to achieve its goal. Our common task is to show the Russian leader that it’s impossible to tackle Ukraine as we will fight and defend ourselves and our Homeland, to ultimate victory!

    Dear brothers and sisters, Ukrainian people!

    Over the three decades since the restoration of our state independence, you and I have repeatedly faced challenges that seemed unfathomable. However, each time we overcame them, with God’s help, by joining forces in the fight for truth, dignity, and freedom. We must do the same now – and with the help of the Almighty, we will achieve victory and a just peace.

    Since the onset of Russian aggression, prayers have been voiced in our churches for liberation from the invasion of foreigners, for God’s care for our defenders at the front line, for a better fate and the release of prisoners and hostages. On the coming Sunday, January 30, I bless all temples of the Orthodox Church of Ukraine to offer additional special prayers for our Homeland.

    I call on the Ukrainian people, our Army, and government to be blessed by the Lord!

    Lord Almighty, the One and only, save our Ukraine!


    Metropolitan of Kyiv and All Ukraine

    January 24, 2022