An Existential Threat | Tomorrow's World

An Existential Threat

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Analysts, governments, and media outlets the world over all have their predictions about where events in Ukraine and the rest of Europe will lead. But the Bible reveals the greater truth about what’s ahead. Are you paying attention?

Many wonder what the Russian invasion of Ukraine means for the world. Those living far from the devastation, seeing heart-wrenching images of atrocities on television and computer screens, naturally want to know how far this will spread. Will it lead to a nuclear Armageddon? Make no mistake: It is of no small significance and has implications for your future.

Most view wars through the lens of their own country’s perspective. We learn early in life to live in a binary world—someone or some country is either good or bad, with no shades of gray. Born just after World War II, I remember hearing my parents talk about the war as a fresh wound—and I picked up on what I heard from them. My friends and I used derogatory terms for the Japanese and Germans, even though most of us had never met one.

As I matured, I learned the history of the Second World War as most Americans viewed it—we were right and Japan, Germany, and Italy were wrong. Later, during the Cold War, I learned that we were right and the Soviet Union was wrong. However, as years have passed, I have come to realize that the world is more complicated than that.

More than One Narrative

Russian President Vladimir Putin points to Western promotion of immorality as one reason his nation is at odds with the West. This does not even remotely justify invading a bordering country and killing its citizens, but his concern does have some validity. While a confirmed United States Supreme Court Justice cannot say what a woman is, Putin can—and, even if in that only, most readers of this magazine will agree with him.

Sadly, expressing any such agreement often results in being labeled an apologist, so please do not misunderstand: Putin’s current actions cannot be justified. Even contrarians who dispute the causes of the war find it difficult to fully support the Russian president, who has poisoned and imprisoned his opponents. And at least some of his troops are committing terrible atrocities against the Ukrainian people, if the pictures and stories coming out of the country are true.

Yet you have no doubt heard the saying, “The first casualty of war is truth”—and it is something for any fair-minded person to keep in mind, as propagandists on all sides shift into overdrive. If past military operations are a guide, it is likely that both sides are perpetrating some atrocities, but that is not the narrative one’s own side will likely admit. An objective in any war is to control the narrative, in part to demonize the enemy. In this case, Putin’s past actions make that only too easy.

The truth is that Vladimir Putin and his supporters in Russia believe they have valid reasons for the invasion, seeing the world very differently than the rest of us. The loss of somewhere between 20 and 27 million of their countrymen in WWII has not been forgotten. The estimate of their losses—using the middle figure of 24 million—is greater than those of Germany, Italy, and Japan combined. We must add the deaths sustained by Australia, Canada, the Dutch East Indies, France, Poland, the U.S., and the United Kingdom to approach the total deaths sustained by the Soviet Union alone (

This might help us better understand why Putin is concerned about NATO perching on his border in Ukraine. NATO expansion may be truly be little more than a convenient excuse for a man wishing to recreate the Soviet past, but Americans should remember that 60 years ago their own nation deemed nuclear-tipped missiles in Cuba unacceptable, even if confrontation risked nuclear war—which was, even then, termed “Mutually Assured Destruction.”

“Russia cannot afford to ‘lose’,” says Sergey Karaganov, former advisor to Putin and predecessor Boris Yeltsin. Sharing a Russian perspective in an interview with Bruno Maçães for the UK’s The New Statesman, Karaganov explained that a NATO-member Ukraine would be an existential threat to Russia, and that Putin needs to be able to proclaim some kind of “victory” before ending the war.

The stakes for Putin were highlighted by Graham Allison in a Foreign Affairs op-ed:

The Vladimir Putin who bombed the Russian city of Grozny into rubble in order to “liberate” it, and who joined Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad in razing Aleppo, certainly has no moral reservations about mass destruction. Moreover, the war in Ukraine is now unambiguously Putin’s war, and the Russian leader knows that he cannot lose—without risking his regime and even his life. So as the fighting continues, if he is pushed to choose between making an ignominious retreat and escalating the level of violence, we should prepare for the worst. In the extreme, this could include nuclear weapons (“Putin’s Doomsday Threat,” April 5, 2022).

The Most Vital Piece of the Puzzle

Not since the Cuban Missile Crisis has the world faced a greater threat of nuclear Armageddon, but what neither Maçães nor Allison—nor any other mainstream writer—understands is biblical prophecy. While the Bible does not speak directly about this current situation, it does warn of an unintended consequence: the prod to form a powerful economic and military force in Europe, which is prophesied to rise.

Until this Russian invasion, few in Germany—indeed, few in Europe—had any stomach for building a powerful European military. Yet such a buildup will occur, according to biblical prophecy. It may take several years to construct that military, but the present crisis has resulted in Europe and Germany taking significant steps in that direction.

It is shocking to realize that, according to Allison, President Kennedy estimated a one-in-three chance that the Cuban Missile Crisis would end in a nuclear war, but was willing to take the risk because he saw nuclear-armed missiles in Cuba as an existential threat to America. Yet even Kennedy and his advisors did not have all the ugly facts that would come out later. “Analysts of this crisis have identified more than a dozen plausible paths that could have led to the incineration of American cities. One of the fastest begins with a fact that was not even known to Kennedy at the time.... [The] Soviets had already positioned more than 100 tactical nuclear weapons on the island. Moreover, the 40,000 Soviet troops deployed there had both the technical capability and the authorization to use those weapons if they were attacked” (emphasis mine).

Whatever Putin’s motives may be, the Cuban Missile Crisis is a study in just how dangerous war can be in the game of “nuclear chicken.”

So, what should we expect to happen next? We see no direct prophecy regarding this Russian invasion of Ukraine, but given the box Putin has put himself in, we are looking at a precarious future. We cannot know every twist and turn leading to Christ’s return, but we can know from the biblical outline of prophecy that the Ukraine war will not be the end of the world. It has, however, awakened a sleeping giant in Europe, which now sees an existential threat to its security. The longer the war continues, and the more brutal it becomes—especially if Putin introduces chemical or tactical nuclear weapons—the greater the impetus to build a powerful European deterrent. This is perhaps the most vital piece of the puzzle setting the stage for the prophesied “beast” to rear its seventh–and final–ugly head in Europe.

Keep watching—and keep reading Tomorrow’s World magazine!


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