Chaos Breeds Chaos: An Analysis of the Global Mid-Term Effects of Russia’s War on Ukraine
The war in Ukraine has been going on for some eight weeks now, which is long enough for the shock and horror to givw way to some analysis. This being the case, the western world is awash in analysis. I don’t think I will be duplicating any of that analysis here because I will be looking at the events that are now much more likely to happen around the world that fulfill scriptural prophecy, specifically Matthew 24:6-8. To be clear: we’ll be looking at the degree to which the conditions that are supposed to exist just before Christ’s return have been or are being fulfilled, and we’ll be looking at knock-on events that are likely to happen in the next three to five years as a result of Russia’s attack on Ukraine.
Here is what it says in Matthew 24:6-8 (NKJV): 6 And you will hear of wars and rumors of wars. See that you are not troubled; for all these things must come to pass, but the end is not yet. 7 For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. And there will be famines, pestilences, and earthquakes in various places. 8 All these are the beginning of sorrows.
Let’s break this down by category:
Wars: Most obvious in this category is the war between Russia and Ukraine, with Europe and America actively siding with Ukraine and helping to formidably arm Ukraine, but not yet committing troops or fighter aircraft (as of this writing). Just on the surface of it, we have to ask why the west is so engaged in backing Ukraine. Set aside the moral imperative stemming from the appalling war crimes of Russia for a moment. What else is driving such a unified backing of Ukraine? An important hint can be found in the rhetoric of western leaders. While speaking about the Ukraine war, President Biden has repeatedly warned that “not one inch” of NATO territory will be ceded to Russia. Presidents don’t usually speak empty or vacuous words, so why were Biden and many other western leaders going to pains to repeat this warning to Russia? It can only be because they all had intelligence pointing to a larger goal that Russia is pursuing. And since Russia continues with its brutal extermination of what will soon be hundreds of thousands of humans in Ukraine, we can conclude that Russia is ignoring sanctions and relentlessly pursuing a goal that is extremely important to them. We can further assume Russia’s goal, if it continues to pursue it, will mean war with the west.
Next, in the context of Russia very likely having war aims that go beyond Ukraine, is the fact that, when Russia sent a good deal of equipment into Ukraine, it did not send its crack forces. They were held in reserve. True, Russia seems very much to have expected their Ukraine campaign to be quick and easy; they apparently expected at least half the Ukraine population to openly welcome them. Still, why were the best troops held in reserve? They were held back because the phase of the war plans that required them had not yet been reached. This is another clue that Russia’s goals for this war go far beyond Ukraine. Will Putin back down? It is far more likely that he will double down until he meets a force stronger than his army and his will.
So, just by standing back and looking at where the pieces are on the chess board we can conclude that Russia will likely continue to go against the opposition of much of the world in its pursuit of not just Ukraine but territorial gains beyond Ukraine. For an interesting (and non-biblically-based) analysis of Russia’s overarching strategy and the drivers of that strategy, give a listen to this recent interview with Peter Zeihan. For Russia, this war seems to have a “do or die” quality to it, which means that we can expect Putin to mobilize large quantities of the Russian society in order to carry out his war. If and as Russia proves it is “all in” on this war effort, we may see them draft into service men from 16 to 60, building an army of up to ten million. Of course, it won’t be a superbly trained, superbly equipped army. In fact, it would likely be another murderous, starved, looting gang with guns and tanks similar to the “army” that invaded Ukraine. Still, 10 million armed and desperate Russian troops can do a profound amount of damage in parts of Europe that Russia likely urgently seeks to conquer, including Moldova, Estonia, Lithuania, parts of Poland, etc.
If Russia does press its campaign, it will mean a war that draws in all of NATO (or most of NATO if Putin-sympathizing Hungary sits it out) as well as the US. This will mean tremendous conflict, massive deaths from chemical and biological weapons, and will likely precipitate at least tactical use of nuclear weapons in Europe. Basically, if Putin presses his campaign, it will not be with half-measures but with every horrible tool at his disposal, regardless of deaths and scorn from every civilized nation on earth. Interestingly, the amateur failures of Putin’s army in Ukraine has made war with Europe more likely instead of less likely, as suddenly Europe is not so afraid of the Russians.
But what if, in this “do or die” effort, a raging and terminally frustrated Putin decides to settle for small gains in eastern and southern Ukraine, and simply declare victory? Counterintuitively, this unlikely scenario also likely means more war. Putin and Russia, both of which have been perceived as strong, will suddenly be perceived as quite weak. Japan will press its claims to the contested Kuril Islands, likely by occupying them. China (the most food insecure country in the world) may eye Siberia, and the agricultural, mineral, and energy wealth of the area and may move to possess parts of it (though it would first take Mongolia as an appetizer preparatory to any such move). In fact, any and all of the 14 countries that border Russia would re-evaluate their view of their neighbor. Interestingly, all this is happening just as Russia’s agricultural land is ever more valuable because of the effects of climate change on cropland elsewhere.
Continuing with the expectation of increased war, we will likely see dramatically increased conflict in the Middle East because of decreased wheat output by Ukraine and opportunistic price increases by Russia. Russia and Ukraine are primary exporters to the Middle East. The last time those exports were disrupted was in 2010 when much of the Middle East was in epic drought and had little cushion of their own. Bread prices tripled in a poor region where bread is a staple food. Many desperate people rose in protest and the “Arab Spring” resulted. If bread prices in the Middle East were to triple today (they have already almost doubled) we would again see horrible conflict between states and between people groups and would again see factions trying to overthrow governments. To be certain, we would see Arab attacks on Israel.
The link between the Russo-Ukraine war, food prices, and wider conflict is not limited to the Middle east. A significant portion of the world’s fertilizer comes from Russia as derived from natural gas. With the price of this gas dramatically higher and with sanctions in place, hydrocarbon-derived nitrogen fertilizers are both more expensive and harder to get. For fertilizers that are non-hydrocarbon derived (phosphate and potash and to a far lesser degree calcium and magnesium), there is also a very significant effect on price and availability because Russia and its sanctioned war partner Belarus are large producers. The entire industrial world with the exceptions of the US, China and Canada is wholly dependent on these fertilizers, so any disruption to supply will immediately impact food production costs in the short term and will dramatically decrease production in the long term. And of course that will lead to widespread conflict and overthrow of governments, with significant “ethnic cleansing” and opportunistic genocide where peace and prosperity have previously kept a lid on resentments and jealousies.
So, because we are very, very likely to see dramatically increased war, conflict and destabilization, and attacks by one people group on another people group and one state on another, we can expect to see this passage from Matthew 24 fulfilled in the next few years: “And you will hear of wars and rumors of wars. See that you are not troubled; for all these things must come to pass, but the end is not yet. 7 For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom.”
The next category is famines. Famines will be strongly influenced by the cost and availability of fertilizers, especially in a world of 8 billion, where 2 billion people make $2 a day or less. These people are utterly dependent on the smooth functioning of globalism and industrial agriculture to stay alive. As both of these systems degrade and break down (or, at a minimum, inflate) over the next few years, we will very likely see famine in parts of Africa, Oceania, Central and South America (we’re already seeing countries fray apart in Central America based on food price spikes and overwhelming violence and decay of social stability), and parts of Asia. And of course, the rising pressure of climate change of crop lands (in the form of drought and heat waves) will mean that the supply shocks will come on top of the pressures already in place.
The hunger and famine process is already starting, with the UN’s FAO ringing the alarm bell on 20 hunger hotspots across the world where conflict, economic shocks, natural hazards, political instability, and limited humanitarian access, are putting millions of lives at risk. To gain a visual perspective on the extent of rapid food price increase, take a look at food price trends over the past 60 years. We got a foretaste of what to expect in 2010, but we’ve now exceeded the boundaries of that shock and have no modern precedent for what is coming.
It is important to understand that we are entering a new world order. It is an altogether uglier, more brutal, and far more selfish world order. We are already seeing that people simply care less for other people, and we can expect to see a vast increase in this hardening of the heart as suffering and violence as normal societal forces becomes more prevalent (Matthew 24:12).
Our next category is pestilence, which in the Matthew 24 context means disease. For a world that may or may not be turning the corner on covid, we can say that this condition has been fulfilled for the time being, though we can certainly expect to see more diseases sweep the globe in the years ahead.
Finally, we are told there will be a great increase in large earthquakes around the world. We’re not seeing this yet, and if anything should awake the sleeping faithful to where we are in prophetic history (see Matthew 25:1-13) it must be a dramatic increase in large earthquakes around the world. We’re already seeing dramatic increases in earthquakes in some regions, and we’re seeing hints that the southern and eastern US will likely see increased earthquake activity in the next few years, but we’re not seeing a level of large earthquakes across the world sufficient to create a general awareness that the earth is changing. But, inasmuch as the rest of Matthew 24 is being fulfilled in front of our eyes, keep watching for an increase in earthquakes, as you will likely see it.
As I have said many times, we are living in the last days. It is not the period of earth’s history I would have chosen to live in, but here we are and we must be faithful workers and faithful witnesses as the world increasingly comes to reflect the character and methods of Satan and his kingdom of selfishness. Here we are, and we must endure to the end of the age (Matthew 24:13). The good news is that it won’t be long in coming.