Defend Truth


The people of Ukraine need South Africa’s help to triumph over evil


Metropolitan (Archbishop) Yevstratiy Zoria of Bila Tserkva (Kyiv region) is spokesperson for the Kyiv Metropolitanate, deputy head of the Department for External Church Relations of the Orthodox Church of Ukraine, and Professor of the Kyiv Orthodox Theological Academy.

Beyond the confines of my personal faith, I share a bond of humanity with all people. And it is in this spirit of shared humanity that I travel to South Africa next week to spread the word about our struggle and to ask for support.

In a world where even human intelligence is being mimicked by machines, old certainties seem to be crumbling. In this century of accelerated development, notions of “good” and “evil” sound old-fashioned and simplistic. But good and evil do exist and we are still faced with a stark choice between the two.

Almost two years ago, on 24 February 2022, we Ukrainians found ourselves facing a manifestation of evil in its most visceral form. Since Russian troops crossed our borders on that day, they have inflicted the most horrendous suffering.

Russian rockets bombard our cities daily, deliberately targeting civilian homes, and destroying the essential infrastructure that keeps people alive. Dozens of schools and hospitals have been attacked. Every day from the areas under Russian control, new horrors emerge – stories of civilians being murdered, tortured, abducted and raped. What is this if not a manifestation of pure evil?

Nowhere is safe in Ukraine. Nothing is sacred. Russian forces are destroying Ukraine’s museums, galleries and historic sites. Churches have been bombed and used as shelters by Russian troops. There have been cases of occupiers setting up firing positions in religious buildings in the occupied territories. This shows their absolute immorality, their indifference to all religion.

It is not just Ukrainian lives that Putin seeks to end – he is pursuing the total obliteration of our history and culture – the very essence of our nation.

In Russia, President Vladimir Putin has turned religion itself into a weapon, co-opting the Russian Orthodox Church to support his genocidal war and to justify his actions to religious communities around the world. As a priest myself, I can say there is no justification for this utter abandonment of morality. The leaders of the Russian church have turned their back on Christ.

The Russian government spreads the lie that they were provoked into starting this war by “the West”, that Ukraine’s eagerness to join Nato somehow threatened Russia. This is manifestly untrue. We never sought conflict with Russia.

Before 2014, when Putin’s troops invaded Crimea, Ukraine was determinedly nonaligned with no interest at all in joining Nato or any other military alliance. Of course, this changed when Russia invaded and illegally annexed our territory. Since then Ukraine has indeed sought protection from Nato.

In 2017, the Ukrainian parliament officially made joining Nato a strategic foreign and security policy objective. But a full five years passed before Russia launched its full-scale invasion. Our desire for Nato protection was not the reason.

The real reason for Russia’s illegal attack on a sovereign country is Putin’s twisted dream to resurrect the old Russian Empire. He has repeatedly stated that Ukraine is not a separate country from Russia and the Ukrainian people do not exist. He has called for the “de-Ukrainisation” of Ukraine.

Read more in Daily Maverick: ‘Putin wants to rebuild the Russian Empire’ — Ukrainian scholar Olexiy Haran dissects the roots of the war in Europe

This is nothing less than genocide. For it is not just Ukrainian lives that Putin seeks to end – he is pursuing the total obliteration of our history and culture – the very essence of our nation.

Russia’s evil is not confined to Ukraine alone – Putin’s tentacles stretch out across the world. Across the African continent, in Mali, in the Central African Republic, in Libya, we see Russian mercenaries killing, raping and terrorising innocent people to prop up governments that are now beholden to Putin’s regime.

Putin is threatened by Ukraine’s commitment to democracy and freedom. These values are what Ukraine is fighting to defend – the same values that South Africa holds dear. Since 1994, South Africans have fought to establish and then defend a new democratic state, forged out of the ashes of the hideous apartheid regime. You understand more than most what it means to put your lives on the line for freedom and the freedom of your children.

Plea for support

Many voices around the world have called for peace – your own President Cyril Ramaphosa prominent among them. And believe me when I say that no one wants peace more than Ukrainians. It is we who are shedding blood and dying in this war. But we can negotiate for peace only once Russia withdraws its troops from our land. While they occupy our land, bomb our cities and commit horrendous crimes against our people, we have no choice but to resist. To stop fighting would spell the end of Ukraine.

Read more in Daily Maverick: War in Ukraine

I am a man of faith – something I share with millions of South Africans. But beyond the confines of my personal faith, I share a bond of humanity with all people. And it is in this spirit of shared humanity that I travel to South Africa from 13 to 17 November 2023 to spread the word about our struggle and to ask for support, for the moment to choose between good and evil is here. I implore South Africa to stand with Ukraine against evil.

We do not ask you to send soldiers or weapons. But South Africa is a country of great influence – a diplomatic leader whose voice carries weight even with Putin. I implore your leaders to use that influence, to speak out, both publicly and in private conversations with Russia, demanding that they end this war now.

With your support we will overcome this evil and the world will know peace again. DM


Comments - Please in order to comment.

  • Rama Chandra says:

    I used to be a strong Ukraine supporter, but this picture is more complicated now that they support the continued killing of tens of thousands of Palestinians, and the subjugation of people of colour in Gaza in an apartheid regime. I hope that the archbishop personally can understand why this seems like double standards by Zelensky. If he believes in good and evil, is Zelensky evil for this? And if so, why does he deserve our continued support? I would love to return to backing Ukraine 100% with answers to these questions.

    • Magda Kus says:

      Ra Ma, many people that support Israel are not bad people. What Hamas did a few weeks ago shocked and horrified many. Not everyone has followed what has been happening before that… so this is where that is coming from. I think so at least.

    • Ben Harper says:


    • Biff Trotters says:

      For starters, Volodymyr Zelenskyy is Jewish. I do not believe that his religion had anything to do with his alignment. Ukraine’s highest priority is alignment with NATO and the EU due to the endless consumption of military hardware. As a result, he is now their puppet on the world stage, a sure vote in their corner. Having said that, Zelenskyy, the Ukraine government, the people of Ukraine are without a doubt NOT a proxy for the US. They are fighting for their own territory and their self-determination. I’m sure that every Ukrainian soldier knows this. But I often wonder what the Russian soldiers BELIEVE they are fighting for…

  • Louise Louise says:

    Anyone who has a heart and soul, will always side with the innocent people in any conflict. Wars and conflicts are awash with lies and propaganda and often it is difficult, if not impossible, to determine the truth. Wars and conflicts are created for a reason and those reasons generally do not benefit the ordinary people.

    We need to separate the people from the governments and the financial backers of these wars/conflicts. Zelensky is simply a puppet of the Zionists, and this has now been amply proven by his support for the Zionists in “Israel”. Zelensky is not working for the Ukrainian people, just as Biden (or whatever/whoever it is) is not working for the American people. Sunak is not fit for purpose and is a very rich foreigner in the UK who should be deported to Pakistan at the earliest opportunity. Ramaphosa is not working for the South African people – he is the most corrupt person in parliament and who also does the bidding of his international masters.

    To come back to Ukraine, I honestly believe that if you ask the ordinary South African who or what we support, then most people would agree that we support the ordinary Ukrainians and the ending of the conflict. With regard to Russia and President Putin, I understand why he is angry at the Ukraine government and the proxy US government. Is Putin acting in “self-defence”? Perhaps only history will provide the answer in time. For now, my vote is to stop all wars and conflicts.

  • Max Ozinsky says:

    “We do not ask you to send soldiers or weapons. But South Africa is a country of great influence – a diplomatic leader whose voice carries weight even with Putin. I implore your leaders to use that influence, to speak out, both publicly and in private conversations with Russia, demanding that they end this war now.”
    This quote from a religious leader of a church created by the Kiev regime, exposes the constant attacks on the South African government by Mills and Hartley and a myriad of DM readers who say SA position is irrelevant in international relations.
    These days, facing defeat on the battlefield and the collapse of their puppet state, Ukraine has changed tack to pleading with Tshwane for our help.
    DM readers seem not to have got the message on the new line yet.

  • Beyond Fedup says:

    Ozinsky – you live in your own twilight world of make believe. This government has betrayed the very principles and values its noble founding fathers fought for. Human rights, democracy, freedom etc. Our foreign policy is in direct contradiction with it (very elective, willfully blind, hugely hypocritical and supremely idiotic) and if you cant see it, you are beyond the pale! We are in bed with and support the most bestial and vile murderous regimes on this earth Russia, Iran etc.) who not only tyrannically persecute (murder, jail, torture etc) their own people for wanting the very same freedoms, but also openly export their violence, killing and destruction to other nations who do not bow their evil policies. As for Ukraine, they want freedom/democracy and are not puppets of Israel or the US. They have every right to be free and chart their own course as a nation. Stop and think for a moment – if you lived in Russia or Iran, you would not be able to write anything that doesn’t conform to the official line. With reference to the SA government, Cyril, Pandor, Dirco – they have zero gravitas, zero credibility, zero respect – they have sold their souls and country to the devil. A country of great influence – what are you smoking??? We are virtually a bankrupt failed state – brought to you by the despicable anc. Even other African countries despise us as being arrogant, having a sense of entitlement/superiority and are xenophobic to boot. Wake up man!

  • Cunningham Ngcukana says:

    The support of Ukraine for murder and genocide by a criminal called Netanyahu does not make the invasion of Ukraine by Russia correct. What we must stand for is the UN Charter, international law and the right of the people of Palestine to national self determination and to resist the brutal and criminal Israel gangster state run a criminal called Netanyahu who defies all international institutions. However, it is very hypocritical to attack the invasion of Ukraine by Putin and be an apologist of the murderous terrorist state of Israel. We have the UN Secretary General who has clearly articulated the position of the international community on both cases. The USA is not the international community that also includes their partners in crimes in the G7. The right of the world to oppose these countries irrespective of their riches is correct. The US oppression of the original nations and their knee on the neck of African and Muslim Americans is not lost to us and Biden has shown us that he is no different to American racists. The Archbishop must have a balance in his call and not leave the genocide that is taking place in Gaza supported by their US backers they are not going to leave them by taking a higher moral ground. The events of October the 7th as the UN Secretary General said did not take place in a vacuum. They have the back drop of ongoing murder by the Israel military and settlers as well as illegal regular detentions of women and children by the Israel military.

  • Neil Parker says:

    My voice is a drop in the ocean but you and your nation have my 100% support. I really wish our ruling elite (particularly the President) had the courage to back or original response to the invasion. To our eternal shame he/they did not. But here it is all the same – I am quite confident that I am not alone in stating that here is where we (and not our turncoat government) stand.

    “South Africa calls on Russia to immediately withdraw its forces from Ukraine in line with the United Nations Charter…South Africa emphasizes respect for the sovereignty and territorial integrity of states.”

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