Since the full-scale invasion of Ukraine in February 2022 Russian forces have been responsible for damaging or destroying at least 660 churches and other religious structures, including at least 206 belonging to Protestants.1 The largest number of Protestant churches damaged or destroyed have been Pentecostal (94), Evangelical Christian-Baptist (60), and Seventh-day Adventist (27).2 And what Russians have not destroyed or seized they have closed and banned for purposes of worship.3 For example, in the portions of the Luhansk Region under Russian and pro-Russian separatist control not a single Protestant church remains open for worship, and in Russian-occupied Donetsk Region, only a handful.

One of Putin’s stated rationales for the full-scale invasion was to protect Russian-speakers in eastern Ukraine from alleged genocide at the hands of a purportedly “Nazi” regime in Kyiv. But ironically, the largest number of churches Russian forces have damaged or destroyed have been those of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church with its much-debated ties to the Moscow Patriarchate (187).5 Putin’s feigned concern for the population of eastern Ukraine is also seen to be a sham when one considers the death toll of mostly Russian-speaking civilians in the Donbass.



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