23 March 2022, The Tablet

The growing challenge facing agencies that wish to remain neutral in Ukraine

Humanitarian aid: Russian policy sees most international humanitarians as dangerous purveyors of “decadent Western values”.

The growing challenge facing agencies that wish to remain neutral in Ukraine

A volunteer carries clothing for refugees at a collection point organised by a Ukrainian Catholic parish in Dresden, Germany
Photo: CNS/Reuters, Matthias Rietschel


The war in Ukraine comes as relief agencies are rethinking the principle that humanitarian aid should always be neutral

The Russian military is meeting expert and heroic military defence from the Ukrainian armed forces, and committed resistance from the great majority of the civilian population. If Russia does eventually take control over more cities in the weeks ahead, as seems possible, resistance will continue. I would then expect the Ukrainians to be subject to brutal, repressive measures. There will be large-scale detention of former government officials, of academics and journalists and all who seek to speak freely or resist Russian control. Street protests will be met with military force. Politically, a comprehensive process of Russianisation would begin: the disappearance of a separate Ukrainian citizenship, a new education curriculum that will centre Ukrainian history and culture around Russia. The current, almost ubiquitous blue-and-yellow flag will be changed. Orthodox Christianity in Ukraine will be brought back under the authority of the Patriarch of Moscow. And one can only tremble at the fate of the Ukrainian Catholic minority.


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