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In recent days, the Crimean peninsula has been at the heart of what some have described as the greatest international crisis of the 21st century. But this is not the first time the region has been so critical to international affairs. Many educated ...

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PHILIP JENKINS

March 13, 2014  5:40pm

I am doubly puzzled by Ms. Cailleach’s comments. Most obviously, I was not attempting to present a scholarly article that demanded footnotes or references, which are not customary in opinion pieces. I mentioned Figes’s book because it is an excellent standard survey of the events I describe. As to Figes’s credentials, the main academic misconduct alleged against him is that he (and/or his wife) wrote vicious anonymous attacks against rival historians in the field. That might be reprehensible, but it is irrelevant to the value of his Crimea book.

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Olivia Cailleach

March 11, 2014  6:35pm

A further note; your essay would have greater authority if you had cited a source other than Mr. Figes. An internet search will reveal that his professional conduct has been less than sterling, and there is apparently concern as to whether the materials he claims to have authored were original to him. There are other, quite reliable historians whose work you may want to choose.

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Olivia Cailleach

March 11, 2014  6:31pm

The situation in the Ukraine did not evolve from a single cause, and the "cure" will not be readily forthcoming - and most certainly it will not come from outsiders. A people who have a history of oppression will understand all "well intentioned help" from other countries (or agencies) as further oppression. Further, as an earlier commenter has said, the Russian Orthodox church in America became a sanctuary for "white Russians" - that is, the monied, titled, wealthy exiles who longed for a restoration to The Good Old Days. That same mentality was passed through a couple of generations but has largely died out. The Church now has the opportunity to become a true venue for the Good News; it will be up to them to choose whether to do so.

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Joseph McDonald

March 11, 2014  11:27am

Russia lost the Crimean War, but the US was a big winner, indirectly. Tsar Alexander II sold Alaska to the Americans in 1867 because He was afraid Alaska would fall into British hands in another war and he also needed the cash to pay for the the Crimean War. Price? 7.2 million dollars. The .2 million dollars was to compensate a Russian ice shipping firm for the loss of the lake in Sitka, from which they harvested ice in the winter to ship to San Francisco for their saloons. In Sitka, AK, you can stand (and also sit and climb on Russian Imperial cannon) on "Castle Hill" where Russia formally relinquished sovereignty to the US on October 18, 1867, which is known as Alaska Day, and is celebrated in Sitka with more fervour than July 4. The Russian Orthodox have been active in Alaska for more than 200 hundred years. When the Catholics settled, in the late 19th Century, Presbyterian missionary, Sheldon Jackson supposedly sighed, "Now I have three groups of heathen to convert."

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Jos van Iersel

March 08, 2014  5:48pm

Interesting that it said the Russians wanted the Holy Land in the control of the Orthodox Church and Napoleonic France the Catholic Church. I think it is naive that was due to religious sentiment, especially as we read of the fights. It is more likely due to the Secular powers thinking they would exert control over the churches.

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james .

March 07, 2014  6:59pm

Though risky, one way to put pressure on Russia is to blockade Russian warships through the Bosphorus and the Dardanelles Channel as a NATO action through its member Turkey.

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Claude Cornet

March 07, 2014  6:48pm

Again with the utmost respect to Professor Jenkins, if Napoleon 111 was the great arch villain and catalyst of the Crimean War, and if the holy sites in the Holy Land were the issue; how is it that Russia lost the conflict, and Great Britain had to focus its hero worship on Florence Nightingale, since French Marshal Patrice MacMahon carried the victory. Yet many places in the Holy Land are I believe still in the care of the Orthodox Church. That many English speaking historians see Napoleon 111 as a villain comes as no surprise, history has a problem with geography, usually the author; reading a french history of England , it noted quite intelligently that the great quality of William 111 was that he was Protestant, and that the great fault of James 11 was that he was Catholic, such keen observations would have made Macaulay bite his thump.

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Chukwuemeka Igwe

March 07, 2014  5:35pm

It is good to emphasize that the Western European world has not always had the mantle of protecting Christianity from itself and from foes without. Probably the west should learn from the Tsarist Russia and Russian Orthodox church. While championing the cause of Christ outside Russia, the Tsarist Russia and the Russian Orthodox church lived in opulence while the peasant population suffered untold penury. It was not difficult therefore for the Bolsheviks to convince the poor that the Church and the Monarchy was not divine in any essence. Hence the Orthodox church was put into exile by the revolution. The orthodox church is back in Russia now. Hopefully they learned their lesson in clinging to the hubris of unbridled capitalism. For the Western nations that recently are trying to equate Christianity with capitalism, I am only reminded of the saying of Jesus when told that Herod has killed many people in St Luke's gospel. Jesus reply was. "Unless you repent, you will all likewise perish

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PHILIP JENKINS

March 07, 2014  11:09am

No sane person wants war with Russia, but that does not mean letting that regime get away with murder - first in the Ukraine and next, perhaps, in the Baltics. But the choices are not simply between war or surrender. There are many, many highly effective responses short of armed force. Sanctions and international isolation would hurt enormously, but if you really want to bring the regime to its knees, use financial pressure. First and foremost, go to London and Geneva and stop Russian money-laundering. Seize Russian assets.

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Richard Magnus

March 07, 2014  10:21am

Glad to see an article of substance on the Ukraine situation. We, as American Christians, cannot support the U.S. government blindly on this. We failed our nation and the people of Iraq miserably through our blind allegiance to the Iraq invasion and our gullible belief of our government's assertions. Now, we have admissions from western media sources (http://www.nbcnews.com/storyline/ukraine-crisis/we-dont-want-war-here-pro- russia-militias-patrol-crimea-n45246 and http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5SBo0akeDMY) that the new Ukraine government is rife with neo-Nazis who want to ethnically cleanse the country. Evangelical Christians must not stand for war with Russia over this - Russia plays its own game and is hardly innocent, but the U.S. has no moral high ground here. Please do not support a war with Russia. Do not repeat our mistake from Iraq. This time, millions, even billions, will die.

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Nabu Quduriuzhur

March 07, 2014  3:03am

Sometimes it's appropriate to couch it in religious terms. For example, Churchill stated ""The Battle of France is over. The Battle of Britain is about to begin. Upon this battle depends the future of Christian civilization." - June 1940" He was quite right. The German National Socialists wanted to bury Christianity. One of Hitler's aims was to replace it. A religion was created for the SS from Nordic myths. National Socialism in GER,ALB,GRC,HUN,RUM,FIN, and BUL ascribed to 6.67 Planks of Marx' Communist Manifesto. Our "allies" of convenience (in speaking of the Soviets, Churchill stated "if Hitler invaded hell, I would make at least a favourable reference to the devil in the House of Commons.") the Soviets, ascribed to 8.17 Planks. Socialism vs. Christian ideas of how countries should be run. Funny how, during the time of so many emancipations of slaves, serfs, etc. in the 1800s, Marx was creating a new way to enslave millions.

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james .

March 06, 2014  6:53pm

It appears Russia will never give up Crimea because of its strategic location for it's naval base.

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PHILIP JENKINS

March 06, 2014  4:55pm

M. Cornet is certainly right about the long-running Anglo-Russian rivalries and mutual fears in India and Central Asia, which continued into the 20th century. I would suggest though (as would many historians) that the immediate detonator for the Crimean war was the adventurism of Napoleon III, and that took religious forms with the Holy Places issue.

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Claude Cornet

March 06, 2014  4:21pm

It must be noted with all due respect to Professor Jenkins, that his overview of what's happening, and his history are more than somewhat peculiar in their interpretation. Napoleon 111 was not more responsible for the Crimean War than his British allies, nor the Czar of Russia for that matter. Though his able Marshal MacMahon did bring the war to an abrupt end. The British and Russian empires had been a logger heads for some time over India as well, the rich Kashmir beaning the end prize. The Crimean War was fought over maintaining the balance of power in Europe. To overplay religion in the matter is simply to distort the reality. The anti-Orthodox Russia stance is even more off the mark; the great Russian ally beginning in the time of Alexander 111 to the fall of Czarist Russia was Republican France.

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PHILIP JENKINS

March 06, 2014  1:36pm

Actually no, I meant balance of terror. That was no error! Drat, I have no idea how my original "Crimean" turned into Ukrainian. Definitely not what I said or meant.

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Andy F

March 06, 2014  11:00am

Thank you for a good review of the background to the unique version of Russian Manifest Destiny. It helps explain why Crimea is so emotive for Russians, a fact being exploited by the Kremlin in shaping public opinion within its sphere of influence. A brief summary of the Crimean War (1853-56) itself would've helped readers appreciate the place of the region in Russian military history and the current Russian psyche, especially as Russia has searched for its place in the world following the messy demise of the Soviet Union. Nevertheless, these historical factors seem to be less relevant to the present situation in Crimea (and Syria!) than the article suggests. In recent years Crimea has been an autonomous region within Ukraine, which has as much of a "Christian" heritage as Russia. The sub-title and first sentence should refer to the "Crimean" rather than "Ukrainian" peninsula, and "This international balance of terror allowed the Ottoman Empire ..." should read "balance of power."

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See Chee TAN

March 06, 2014  8:26am

"In effect, Britain became the protector and guarantor of the corrupt and failing Ottoman regime." If this is true, then a similar incident happened in China, where a Chinese Christian Kingdom known as Tai Ping Tian Guo (太平天国)was defected by the Manchu with the help from the West.

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Michael Craney

March 05, 2014  11:37pm

"...Russian and Ukrainian Christians - the same group that took part in pogroms..." Sorry, but this is a misread of history. Under the Soviets, the Church hierarchy, such as it existed, was controlled by the KGB. This is why the Russian Church overseas schismed; because Russian Orthodox outside of the Soviet Union knew that the "Soviet" russian church had been coopted and was no longer a spiritual mission. So, if you see in a history book that the "Church did this or that" during Soviet rule, be careful -- that wasn't "The Church" --- those were KGB operatives with beards wearing robes.

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Irving Hexham

March 05, 2014  9:56pm

The article also explains why the Russians both fear and mistrust the West. Britain and France betrayed them in the nineteenth century so why should they trust us today? From their viewpoint, and like Philip Jenkins I am trying to understand them and not saying they are right,the West betrayed Christians in Kosovo when Muslim terrorists attacked the Serbs in 1998. Nevertheless, after 9/11 the Russians went out of their way to support America in the war on terror. In return they expected support from American in their own war against terrorist groups. But, from the Russian viewpoint, America seems more interested in appeasing the Wahhabi rulers of Saudi Arabia, whose citizens support wars against both Russia and China. Whether this is true or not is another question. What is important, is this is how it looks to Russians. So we have to tread carefully here and remember some people have long historical memories.

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Grady Walton

March 05, 2014  5:20pm

Wait a minute. I’ve always heard America has the manifest destiny. You mean another country believes THEY have the manifest destiny? You’re shaking the foundation of my entire belief system, which was already shaky. (Smile.)

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