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World News

Church of England clarifies bishop's comments over Ukraine giving up territory to get a ceasefire

by Donna Birrell

The Church of England has clarified remarks made by the Bishop of Leeds over Ukraine giving up territory to get a ceasefire.

In a discussion paper on Ukraine written for next month’s meeting of the Church’s General Synod, Rt Revd Nick Baines said it was “morally problematic” to oppose a “reasonable agreement to end the war and spare the people of Ukraine further suffering in the hope of securing additional advantage through a protracted conflict.”

In remarks suggesting Ukraine should negotiate rather than continue a military defence of the territory in the east of Ukraine, the Bishop wrote: “The long term goal should be that Ukraine controls all its territory, but it does not necessarily follow that military force should be used to liberate Crimea or even all of the eastern Donbas region. Some of these goals might be better served through diplomacy and the selective easing of sanctions.”

In a  statement to Premier, a spokesperson the Church of England said: “This is not the view of the Church of England.

“This is not policy. This is a discussion paper for Synod that notes potential long-term scenarios highlighted in some quarters regarding Ukraine. The territorial integrity of Ukraine is without question.

“As the paper says clearly, the long term goal should be that Ukraine controls all its territory.”

The Donbas region in the east of Ukraine has been heavily contested since 2014 with Ukrainian government forces fighting Russian-backed separatists for control over the industrialised regions of Donetsk and Luhansk.

Russia has stepped up its military offensive in the region since its invasion of Ukraine on 24th February this year.

Luhansk’s Governor today said Ukrainian troops would have to withdraw from Severodonetsk, which is continuing to come under heavy Russian attack, with 90 percent of homes damaged or destroyed.

The General Synod will debate the emergency motion tabled by the Bishop of Leeds, condemning Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and urging churches to support refugees and the people of Ukraine, when it meets at the University of York from July 8 to July 12.

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