Pastor Sunday Adelaja, Founder and Senior Pastor of Embassy of God’s Church in Kyiv, Ukraine on March 27 had a comprehensive zoom chat with the Network of Christian Journalists in Africa. Here is the concluding part of the two and half hours chat
What will you say is the political reason for the war of Russia in Ukraine?
There was a president that brought freedom to Russia and the whole of Europe. His name is Mikhail Sergeyevich Gorbachev. He was the last president of the USSR. He brought freedom to the 15 former soviet union countries including Ukraine. Apart from freeing these countries, he disbanded the Warsaw Treaty Organization which is like NATO. They had 22 countries that have collective security and military alliance.
But the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation NATO did not disband. Since they didn’t disband they were told that NATO should not be brought close. There was no official government document signed on this agreement. But the then US secretary of state James Baker gave the word that they will not extend to the East. The head of Germany at that time also promised they will not get close
After the collapse of the Soviet Union, Russia became weak and NATO expanded five times pushing Russia to the corner. The last country left that is like a buffer zone between the West and NATO countries is Ukraine.
Russia now said it will never tolerate NATO in Ukraine. Two months ago Russia sent a letter to the US to give them a guarantee that Ukraine will not join NATO. But NATO says they won’t give such a guarantee that Ukraine is a sovereign nation and capable of making its own decision.
They now said if they are not giving them a guarantee, they were going to stop Ukraine from joining NATO. That is the number one political reason for the war.
To Russia, Ukraine trying to join NATO is a slap in the face. Interestingly, between 40 to 80 per cent of those in Ukraine have Russian or Ukrainian blood. Russia feels Ukraine would bring danger to them. Ukraine insisted on going to NATO because Russia in the meantime had taken over Cremia. Ukraine on the other hand is emboldened by its alliance with NATO. it thinks NATO would fight for it when the chips are down.
There are videos where a one-time US president John Mackay said they will support Ukraine whatever happens. The Ukraine people put their faith in NATO. Now the war is on but NATO won’t fight because they want to avert a third world war.
The real problem with Putin is that he does not want Ukraine to bring the influence of the West because if western domination comes to Ukraine, it is like coming to Russia. He does not want the influence of gay marriage and same-sex marriage that has dominated the West to come to Russia. He does not want the mockery of Christianity. That is one of the reasons he started the war.
When you listen to the West, they will only tell you Putin is crazy he wants to make Russia great again.
Yes, he wants to make Russia great but not the way the West is portraying it. He wants to make Russia great politically, economically and militarily so that they will not be subdued by the West. It is not to collect all the former soviet union countries back.
As it is what kind of end do you see to this war?
It’s a big problem because the west wants to support Ukrain so it does not lose the war. If Ukraine loses, it’s the West losing. Right now we have people from over 26 countries in Ukraine who are fighting on the Ukrainian side. The West wants to make sure that Russia does not win. The US just voted 13 billion dollars to support Ukraine alone. As long as those weapons keep coming the war will continue.
I want the weapons to keep coming to help save Ukraine. But the more the weapons, the longer the war. There are some countries that are NATO countries like Poland that are ready to fight for Ukraine But they are cautious because it will escalate the war if that happens.
So it is not easy to determine the end of the war. To stop sending weapons to Ukraine is for Ukraine to lose but sending in more weapons is the elongation of the war. If NATO people join and defeat Russia it could lead to nuclear war. It is not an easy answer. But the only way to stop the war is through negotiation.
One of the conditions to end the war is that the breakaway part of Ukraine should be allowed to go. But then if the Ukrainian president allows that, ordinary people in the street will be against the government. As of today, Ukraine is ready not to go to NATO again. They have decided to remain a neutral country. The president is ready to do that. But to now recognise those breakaway countries is like giving out close to 10 million people who were originally Ukrainians.
Many believe Ukraine is being targeted by Russia because of its wealth. How will you react to this?
The wealth of Ukraine is just about 2 percent of the wealth of Russia. So it can’t be true that Ukraine is being targeted because of its wealth. Russia’s raw material is like the whole of Africa. It has more concentration of wealth. Only the US can compare with Russia in terms of wealth. The only way to stop this war is for God to give Ukraine the wisdom to handle the negotiation or that God will give Ukraine power to defeat the military power of Russia.
From what is going on now on the global scene, what lesson for those travelling out of Nigeria to seek greener pasture. Some Nigerians in Ukraine were even saying they were not ready to come back home despite the war?
There are a lot of lessons for Nigeria in this crisis. No matter how bad your country is, don’t support its breakaway. The Soviet Union used to be one country. But the division is what is still causing problems today. So when I hear of the Yoruba nation and Biafra breakaway I counsel against it. Everybody who loves their country should fight for the unity of the country. War destroys everything good.
Many who don’t want to come back home want to stay back because they want to get assimilated into one of the western countries. They don’t mean to stay in the war zone. Some want to finish their programmes. They want to hang out so they can go back to school. Everybody is looking for greener pasture. You can’t stop them from moving. But they have to be discreet so they won’t be going from frying pan to fire
In all of this what is Jesus’ position? Is Putin representing the church in this war? What is the real position on the ground right now?
I will start with the last question. People believe what they see on television. When I watch television, I also believe that the Russian army is weak and that they are losing the war. And that they are running away and that they lack motivation.
That is what I hear from western media every day. But the question is why is it that the territory of Ukraine is getting smaller by the day if Ukraine is winning. The report is that Ukraine is winning. But right now Russia has occupied 30 percent of Ukrainian territory. That is the danger of propaganda. A lot of Ukrainians will be shocked to wake up one day and see that the country has been overrun. What is on the ground is that our villages are being destroyed. Our towns and infrastructure are being ruined. More territories are going by the day.
On the position of Jesus, I think Jesus is feeling the pain of the dying and the destitute. He is weeping and crying with everybody else. I also think Jesus is also seeing the bigger picture. The changes that will come out of this will be for the overall good. Jesus is seeing the transformation that will take place and how it will work for the good of humanity.
What should be the outlook for the government in Nigeria and Africa as a whole?
Until we make our country a better place, people have to travel to look for greener pastures. It is one of the greatest forms of education. If you survive in Nigeria, you will survive anywhere in the world. We can’t stop anybody from traveling to get an education and a better life. The only thing is that after getting all the knowledge let them come back and help the country.
How true is the claim that Russia came out of Ukraine? Is it true that a lab has been discovered in Ukraine where biological weapons are being produced?
Yes, the city of Kyiv is called the mother of Russia. It is the city from where the former Russian empire developed and grew. It is like Ile-Ife in Yoruba land which is the cradle of the Yoruba race. Kyiv is the cradle of the Russian race. So it is painful for Russia to see the cradle go to western influence. It is their own place. It is the place Christianity was introduced to the Russian world. All of them were baptised in the river in Kyiv. It is the cradle of their Christianity as well.
On the bio laboratory, that is another problem. Nobody knew America was developing bio lab in Ukraine even after the world has banned biological weapons. But the US is saying it is just a biological lab for research. But it has now been confirmed that they are biological weapons being developed underground in Ukraine. That is another big problem. But then Russia is saying they want to prevent the biological weapon from exploding.
What kind of impact did you make in Russia that the President would make you a target. Is it not better for you to come to Nigeria now that the war is on?
In 2005 just before I was declared a personal non-grata in Russia, the then president of Ukraine called the influential pastors in Ukraine and told us that Russia was alleging that the US is using the protestant churches to infiltrate into Russia and that Russia should do everything to stop that.
A year later I was banned. That was in 2006. now I knew I have been on the list of bad boys in Russia. Now that Russia is trying to take over Ukraine, I got information that my name is on the list of influencers that the Russian government wants to eliminate when they take over Ukraine.
The Ukrainian government got to me that I am on the list and we had to leave within one hour that the war started.
I could not have come to Nigeria immediately because I left in one cloth. I could not gather my children and wife in one place. I did not even have a document. I had to get out of danger before I put my head together again before coming to Nigeria.
But is it true that Russia has the nuclear power they claim to have?
They have nuclear capacity. The nuclear weapon is more in Russia. If it comes to conventional war they are inferior to NATO. But on nuclear weapons they are strong. They know they will not attack with nuclear weapons because it will also consume them too. The nuclear weapon has the capacity to destroy the world 1000 times. Putin saying he would unleash nuclear weapons on the world is a preemptive kind of attitude.
You said earlier that Putin is more comfortable with old churches than the new ones. What does he say is the sin of the new churches?
Putin thinks a church should be modest and use its money to take care of poor people. But he sees what is going on with the new churches as business. He is saying why should the church have political and economic influence? He is asking why is the church influencing the law? He believes the protestant churches are probably working for the US.
You have said a lot of good things about Putin despite being your enemy and the enemy of Ukraine. Why do you think the West is demonising him?
I think what is going on now is a war between systems. The system of the West is that we are the best, we are good. If anybody or country tries to stop the way we are running that country or person should be stopped. They believe you are disturbing them if don’t allow them to carry out their global agenda.
Putin on the other hand is doing a lot of things that make the world make him think he is the problem. Anybody that has influence that he thinks is not in the interest of his country, he represses them. Putin goes against freedom to those who don’t have the right values. There are a few times also that Putin has intervened in other countries like Georgia. So those are the things that make the West demonise him.
In all of this, where is the war leaving Africa as a continent. What position should the continent take on this war?
My own advice for Africa is to remain neutral. They should not support the West or Russia. But then, African countries need a lot of muzzles to remain neutral. African countries should take advantage of this war to develop themselves. Ukraine is leading in wheat production, and Russia is also a leading wheat producer. Now that the war is on, the wheat supply from those countries is halted. This is the time for African countries to cultivate wheat massively. Nigeria for instance could be a leading wheat-producing country by taking advantage of the war.
All those things they produce that cannot be supplied to the world, African countries should jump into them. They should use this opportunity to develop themselves. Europe is looking for gas. Africa should begin to look for means of exporting its gas. Countries that are wise take advantage of war to develop themselves. America became a superpower because of the first two wars. We should use this same situation to develop ourselves in Africa.