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Russia Fortifies its Position as Europe Dithers
Russia is aggressively pushing its military might around while Europe cowers behind lawsuits and halfhearted promises.
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May 1, 2015 - Audio, 15.25 MIN
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As the world is gripped with the violence in Baltimore and the earthquake in Nepal, the political seas and waves are also roaring throughout Europe. Russia is expanding and flexing its military might while Europe can only offer veiled protests and legal action.

As the world is gripped with the violence in Baltimore and the earthquake in Nepal, the political seas and waves are also roaring throughout Europe.

Headlines this week have highlighted the dependence of Europe on Russia. The New York Times ran an article this week with the headline, “What Central Europe Really Thinks About Russia,” in which it stated:

It was only a decade ago that Central Europe, in the American imagination, was Donald Rumsfeld’s “New Europe,” a collection of freedom-loving, heroic small nations — and America’s most loyal allies. Washington ushered them into NATO as a bulwark against Middle Eastern instability and Russian expansionism. Today, however, that perception has changed. Many fear that a number of these plucky, strategically vital states have become Moscow’s Trojan horses in the Western alliances.

The author cites as proof for this assertion:

  • Czech president Milos Zeman intention to attend the military parade in Moscow  marking the 70th anniversary of the Soviet victory over Nazi Germany until pressure forced him to withdraw
  • Hungarian prime minister Viktor Orban intention to block the proposed European energy union (designed to stop Russia’s influence in Europe).
  • Survey’s indicate the majority of Poles oppose weapons deliveries to Ukraine and an even larger majority are reluctant to let Ukrainians travel freely in the European Union

So, regardless of all of its rhetoric, the European Union is going to struggle with isolating Russia. Some of its member states are too tightly tied to Russia, and others are getting closer all the time. Greece is moving closer to being under the grip of Putin’s Russia. Reuters reported the following under the headline “Greek-Russia ties bloom as default looms”:

Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras and Gazprom CEO Alexei Miller agreed last week on a “roadmap” for a multi-billion dollar pipeline project to transport gas from Russia to Greece.  The long-term plan is a further sign of warming geopolitical ties between Athens and Moscow, at a moment when the Greek economic crisis appears to be worsening.

The article went on to state:

Defence Minister Panos Kammenos has floated the idea in public (receiving wider Russian aid). And Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov has indicated that Moscow would consider such a request were it made.

The idea of Europe pulling away from Russia has been explored by Forbes Magazine which stated the following:

“…can the EU ever truly kick its main foreign gas supplier to the curb?
Here’s the quick answer: nyet. (Russian for no).
Russian natural gas accounts for roughly a third of all foreign supplied natural gas coming into Europe. Russia’s biggest partner is Germany. In that state, Russia’s presence is on the upswing.
Gazprom Germania, a subsidiary of the Russian state-owned gas giant, and German utility EnBW signed an agreement on April 24 to acquire four EnBW natural gas filling stations in the cities of Stuttgart and Nagold. The deal is supposed to be official on Friday. That acquisition gives Gazprom Germania 28 natural gas filling stations in green-loving Germany. Gazprom plans to be running 35 stations by the end of this year.”

So Germany isn’t going to divorce its energy-daddy any time soon. Forbes went on to explain just how dependent Europe is on Russian energy:

In 2013, Germany accounted for 40% of Gazprom’s exports to the E.U.; Turkey came in second at 26.9%. Turkey signed a deal with the Russian government recently to build a pipeline into Europe, which will be an alternative to the three pipelines that currently bring Russian gas to the E.U. via Ukraine.  In third place is Italy, accounting for 25.3% of Russia’s gas exports to Europe, according to the company.

What about the Ukraine

But what about the crisis in the Crimea and the ongoing battle for the Ukraine, isn’t Europe squarely behind Ukraine and backing Russia down?  Well, not exactly…

Stratfor Global Intelligence Service reported the following:

In late February, an entire battalion-sized mechanized infantry unit arrived in Belgorod, while armor and artillery units moved toward the city by rail. Convoys carrying armored personnel carriers, supply trucks and command vehicles later followed. By mid-March, there were at least two mechanized battalions, one artillery battalion, one air defense battalion and at least two armored companies in Belgorod. The Russian city is located about 40 kilometers (24 miles) away from the border with Ukraine, close to the strategic Ukrainian city of Kharkiv. Deploying so close to Kharkiv is a threat to the Ukrainian government….
Despite the cease-fire, Russia has never stopped moving weapons and equipment to separatists across the border, most notably transferring tanks on a regular basis. While separatist forces could use these resources for offensive purposes, the Kremlin’s training and weapons program for separatists is likely designed both to entrench Russian influence in the separatist territories and boost its leverage against Ukraine and the West.

The Economist commented on the lack of resolve from the EU in making any real commitments to the Ukraine when it comes to Russia:

The romance between Ukraine and the European Union is full of unmet expectations. Ukraine wants commitment from the EU; the EU wants proof that Ukraine has really changed. When EU officials visited Kiev on April 27th for a joint summit, they snubbed Ukraine’s requests for a peacekeeping force in the Donbas, for additional military aid and for visa-free travel.
 “Greece already received $300 billion, with no war, with no Russian tanks,” the [Ukrainian] prime minister, said after the summit. Ukraine, he complained, has received just one-tenth as much.

The article sites Ukraine’s corruption as the reason for Europe’s resistance to commitment. However, dealing with corruption is unlikely as the prime minister is an oligarch himself. So Russia keeps on pushing ahead.

What can Europe do?  The Wall Street Journal ran the headline, “Putin Marches, Europe Sues” and described how Europe is hiding behind lawsuits instead of doing anything concrete and stated,

“European Commission filed an antitrust suit against Gazprom for dominating its energy market. In lieu of more energy production, file a lawsuit. Yeah, that’ll work.”

The article went on to lament how Europe’s own energy supply cannot be tapped due to the “green parties” who will not allow any development on the European continent.

Europe backs down as Russia builds up.

While Europe is vacillating, Russia is building its forces up. National Interest reported on April 29, 2015:

Russia has launched what it claims to be the “quietest submarine in the world.” This week, Admiralty Shipyards—a Russian defense company— held a ceremonial launching for its newest Varshavyanka-class diesel-electric submarines. Russian state media outlets have said that the Varshavyanka-class are the “quietest in the world, and so was dubbed ‘black hole’ by NATO.”
The submarines pack a powerful punch, and are intended primarily for anti-shipping and anti-submarine warfare. “Armed with 18 torpedoes and eight surface-to-air Club missiles, [they] are mainly intended for anti-shipping and anti-submarine missions in relatively shallow waters. They have an extended combat range and can strike surface, underwater and land targets,” Russia Today previously reported. The torpedoes are launched out of six bays, which automatically reload every 15 seconds.

This “new launch” is in keeping with the “preparation” that is described in Ezekiel 38:7, and the form of attack described in Daniel 11:40 where it states of the coming invasion:

“…the king of the north shall come against him like a whirlwind, with chariots, and with horsemen, and with many ships; and he shall enter into the countries, and shall overflow and pass over.” (Daniel 11:40)

These machines are not just for show either. The increase in aggressive activity is being seen around the world. This week, under the headline “Russia Conducts Nuclear Bomber Flight Near Alaska,” the the Washington Beacon reported two Russian Bear H bombers intruded into the Alaskan air defense zone.

Isn’t the Russian navy all washed up?  How capable is the new Russian air force? The article stated:

Northern Command commander Adm. William Gortney told reporters that Russia is developing a far more capable military than its predecessor, the Soviet Union, which made up for its poor quality of troops and equipment by deploying very large numbers of forces, he said.
Moscow also has published a new military doctrine that explains the military annexation of Ukraine’s Crimea and covert backing of armed rebels in eastern Ukraine, Gortney said.
Both numbers of flights and numbers of locations for the bomber flights “have gone up,” he said. But really, my question is, what is their intent long-term-wise?”
Gen. Phillip Breedlove, commander of the U.S. European Command, told a Senate hearing Thursday that a “revanchist” Russia threat under Vladimir Putin is the most serious security worry facing the region.
“Russia is blatantly challenging the rules and principles that have been the bedrock of European security for decades,” Breedlove told the Senate Armed Services Committee.
“This is global. It’s not regional, and it is enduring, not temporary,” he said. “Russian aggression is clearly visible in its illegal occupation of Crimea and its continued operations in Eastern Ukraine.”
 “What worries me is Russia as a nation now adopting an approach that says they can and will use military power to change international borders,” Breedlove said. “That’s what I truly worry about every day.”

This on the heels of Tuesday’s headline in the Washington Times, “Finland fires on suspected Russian submarine in waters off Helsinki”. The article stated:

Six months after a Russian sub lurking off the coast of Stockholm triggered Sweden’s biggest naval mobilization since the Cold War, officials in Finland said Tuesday that the country’s military had fired underwater depth charges at a suspicious vessel in waters near Helsinki.
The development comes amid months of claims by Western and Eastern European military officials that Russian fighter jets and navel vessels have increased the frequency of their surprise incursions into the airspace and waters of other nations. Moscow, in turn, has complained about what it says are Western provocations along its border, including expanded military supplies to Ukraine and joint military exercises with countries all along the border with Russia in recent months.

Bible Prophecy makes it clear that Europe and Russia will be confederates in the attack on Israel in the time of the end:

“Son of man, set thy face against Gog, the land of Magog, the prince of Rosh (RSV) Meshech and Tubal, and prophesy against him…. Gomer, and all his bands; the house of Togarmah of the north quarters, and all his bands: and many people with thee.” (Ezekiel 38:2,6)

Rosh corresponds to Russia, Meshech to Moscow and Tubal to the Tobolsk regions. Historians identify Magog with the area of Eastern Europe, and the area that used to be called “The Warsaw Pact”, located between the Rivers Don and Danube. The bands of Gomer migrated across Europe and settled in Germany and France, corresponding to the Germanic and Gallic peoples. These nations come together against Israel. Gog’s control over them is indicated in verse 7:

“Be thou prepared, and prepare for thyself, thou, and all thy company that are assembled unto thee, and be thou a guard unto them.” (Ezekiel 38:7)

Being a guard, Hebrew Mishmar, indicates “a place of confinement, prison, jail, guard post” or to “hold in custody.” So the prince of Russia has to hold Europe in confinement, or custody. With the media increasingly speaking about Russia’s hegemony over the eastern European nations once again, and its military excursions all around Europe, we see the Bible in the News as the world draws closer to the great day of God almighty.

As we watch the Bible in the News it should provoke us to evaluate our daily lives, as Paul challenges us in the Epistle to the Romans:

“And that, knowing the time, that now it is high time to awake out of sleep: for now is our salvation nearer than when we believed. The night is far spent, the day is at hand: let us therefore cast off the works of darkness, and let us put on the armour of light. Let us walk honestly, as in the day; not in rioting and drunkenness, not in chambering and wantonness, not in strife and envying. But put ye on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make not provision for the flesh, to fulfil the lusts thereof.” (Romans 13:11–14)

So let us not get overcharged with the cares of this life, and pulled away to the world at the twelfth hour… let us prepare ourselves to meet our Lord, because he will soon be here, as a thief in the night to the nations, but to the people of God, they should be prepared to meet him with joy.

For the Bible in the News this has been Jonathan Bowen joining you.

Bible in the News provides a weekly analysis of world politics and events
in the light of Bible prophecy — the Bible in the News!