'No justification' for Russian invasion of Ukraine, say European evangelicals
The European Evangelical Alliance (EEA) has condemned Russia's invasion of Ukraine as "unjustified" and "unprovoked".
There have been reports of explosions in Kiev, Odessa and Kharkiv after Russian president Vladimir Putin authorised a "special military operation" in Ukraine on Thursday morning.
Ukrainian military has been ordered "to inflict maximum losses" against Russian forces.
Responding to the crisis, the EEA said that Russia's claims to be protecting ethnic Russians in Ukraine and eliminating Ukrainian threats against Russia were "untrue".
The evangelical body said that the "disaster" unfolding in Ukraine had been "provoked" by Russian President Vladimir Putin "for wider geopolitical purposes".
"We see no justification for these actions and are deeply distressed by the death, destruction, chaos and misery that will result," said EEA General Secretary Thomas Bucher.
The EEA called on Russia to respect Ukraine's sovereignty. It has also asked Christians to pray for those in power and everyone affected by the invasion.
"And let's pray for all those with the power to stop the war and to bring about long term peace," it said.
World Evangelical Alliance Secretary General Bishop Dr Thomas Schirrmacher echoed the calls.
"We are gravely concerned to yet again witness armed conflict that will inevitably lead to tragic loss of human lives, including innocent civilians who only desire to live in peace," he said.
"We call for an end to the hostilities, an immediate ceasefire and respect for Ukrainian territorial integrity.
"We also call on the global Christian community to pray for peace in Ukraine. Europe has witnessed the horrors of war in the past and has learned that armed conflict and military occupation only brings suffering and devastating."