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Head of Russian Evangelical Alliance laments invasion and asks for forgiveness

by Kelly Valencia

The head of the Russian Evangelical Alliance has written a letter to Christians around the world lamenting the Russian invasion of Ukraine. 

Rev Vitaly Vlasenko, general secretary of the Russian Evangelical Alliance, said he the military invasion was a "shock" to him. 

"I mourn what my country has done," Rev Vlasenko wrote. "In the worst-case scenario, I could not imagine what is now being observed in Ukraine."

"Today, as a citizen and as General Secretary of the Russian Evangelical Alliance, I apologize to all those who have suffered, lost loved ones and relatives, or lost their place of residence as a result of this military conflict," he continued. 

He also shared how he had done "everything he could" to prevent the war, including writing an open letter to Russian president Vladimir Putin the day before the invasion, supporting a request by Ukrainian church leaders to find a peaceful solution to the conflict.

Rev Vlasenko is one of the few Russian church leaders who have spoken against the war in Ukraine. Last week, the head of the Russian Orthodox Church Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and all Russia condemned Western sanctions against the country.

In his letter to the World Council of Churches, Patriarch Kirill said: "This tragic conflict has become a part of the large-scale geopolitical strategy aimed, first and foremost, at weakening Russia.

"And now the Western leaders are imposing such economic sanctions on Russia that will be harmful to everyone. They make their intentions blatantly obvious - to bring sufferings not only to the Russian political or military leaders, but specifically to the Russian people. Russophobia is spreading across the Western world at an unprecedented pace."

Rev Vlasenko concluded the letter by saying: "My prayer is that you will find strength from the Lord to extend your hand of solidarity and forgiveness, so we can live as the people of God to our world."

The Russian Evangelical Alliance is part of of World Evangelical Allaince's 143 national member bodies. 

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