‘This is not a bluff’
In his recent national televised address to the Russian people, President Putin said, “In the event of a threat to the territorial integrity of our country and to defend Russia and our people, we will certainly make use of all weapon systems available to us. This is not a bluff.”
With thousands of Russian troops killed by Ukrainian forces, with recent military defeats, with the call-up of 300,000 Russian military reservists, and with Ukrainian President Zelensky boldly declaring his aim of retaking the eastern Donbas region and Russian annexed Crimea, Putin is looking and sounding like a desperate cornered man.
There are few things more dangerous than a desperate cornered person with nuclear weapons!
With added danger, there are many in positions of power who don’t take Putin’s nuclear threat seriously. They are playing Putin’s insane game of nuclear Russian roulette. They are placing a bet on the world that Putin is bluffing.
But at least one Western leader sees the dangers. The European Union’s foreign policy chief, Josep Borrell warned that the world is at a “dangerous moment” with the Russian president “pushed into a corner.” Borrell ominously added, “When people say it is not a bluff, you have to take them seriously” (see: https://bit.ly/3SuNerY).
But most importantly, what does the Gospel of Jesus Christ say about such situations?
Clearly Jesus lived and taught nonviolence. “But to you who hear I say, love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you.”
And even if Putin does not use nuclear weapons, the ongoing loss of life of so many mostly young Russian and Ukrainian soldiers, together with the death and destruction suffered by countless innocent Ukrainian children, women and men clearly illustrates the pressing need for genuinely committed, open-minded, serious negotiations – now!
Cooler heads and warmer hearts need to prevail. And to help insure that, we need to pray hard for peace, and pressure our leaders to move away from war and war preparation, and instead creatively build solidarity, justice and peace.
Please contact U.S. President Biden (see: https://www.whitehouse.gov/contact/) and urge him and NATO to stop the military drive to defeat Russia. And instead, urge him to seriously negotiate with Putin by being a nonviolent peacemaker – creatively following the nonviolent guidance of the Gospel and Catholic social teaching. Consider reading and reflecting on St. John XXIII’s famous encyclical letter “Pacem in Terris” (“Peace on Earth”) – click here https://bit.ly/3r4yi8e.
With the grace of God, let us muster up the faith and courage to confront violence with nonviolence. Here are powerful words from Rev. Martin Luther King to inspire us along this journey: “Hate is too great a burden to bear. Somehow, we must be able to stand up before our most bitter opponents and say, ‘We shall match your capacity to inflict suffering by our capacity to endure suffering. We will meet your physical force with soul force. … We will not only win our freedom for ourselves; we will so appeal to your heart and conscience that we will win you in the process, and our victory will be a double victory.’”
Tony Magliano is an internationally syndicated Catholic social justice and peace columnist. He is available to speak at diocesan or parish gatherings. Tony can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.