Whatever might be Russia’s complaint, the invasion of Ukraine is a serious sin. While the weight of this sin falls on Putin and Russia’s military leaders, the average Russian soldier cannot comply with those orders that prosecute what is simply an unjust war.
Those who seek to excuse Putin’s aggression make themselves complicit in his sin. This applies not only to government officials in Russia and other governments around the world but also to pundits and ordinary men and women.
While I wish it needn’t be said, it also applies to those Orthodox bishops and clergy who support the war whether publicly or secretly in their hearts.
In their public statements, some bishops and clergy have rightly condemned Putin’s war as an act of unjust aggression.
Others, however, while calling for peace have stopped short of this. In not condemning the war they have suggested that there might be a moral equivalence between Putin’s unjust aggression and Ukrainian’s defensive response. To be clear, there is no moral parity in this matter. Putin and his accomplices are guilty of a grave offense against God and the people of Ukraine by attacking the innocent.
Another reason war is a sin is precisely because it requires those targeted by an aggressor to take up arms to defend innocent lives.
This means that now Putin and his allies bear the weight not only for the lives that their soldiers kill but the moral damage that is done to these individuals.
Added to this, they are now also responsible for those who Ukrainian soldiers kill in defense of their neighbors and for the moral wounds inflicted on them by their defensive actions.
So once again, to defend this war, even secretly in one’s heart, is to collude with a terrible sin.
While less serious, it is still morally wrong to call for peace without also condemning the invasion. Even if done with the noblest of intentions doing so, or rather NOT DOING SO, offers support to an unjust aggressor and leaves those harmed by his actions without the moral support due them.