Petrol & Putin

Matthew Fitzgerald laments the rising cost of petrol, and the global suffering caused by the Russia-Ukraine War.

Of late, at the petrol station, I get that sinking feeling. My innards turn as the numbers marked “$” rapidly outpace those marked “L”. The cause of the prolonged fuel price hike, of course, is the conflict in Ukraine driven by Russia’s autocrat.

As I fill up, then, my mind turns to Ukraine and wheat – its cost and growing scarcity due to war. Russia and Ukraine, combined, make up a not inconsiderable portion of the world’s wheat exports, and little is leaving either country presently.

The Ukraine, prized for its black soil, bread-basket of Europe, swallowed up in a war-time pact, Sovietised, and presently viciously contested, is no stranger to conflict.

Across the border, Russia’s own recent history is well-known. Revolutions, collectivisation, war, communism and collapse, and lately oligarchy and corruption.

As global pressure on Russia increases, the days and ways of the Soviet past make a comeback. Financial sanctions are biting with the mass exodus of multinationals, Soviet-style inflation, an unstable rouble, shrinking economy, and uncertainty over supply of groceries and medications.

Jesus’ prayer “Give us today our daily bread, and forgive us our debts” must be especially resonant right now for the large numbers of Russians who are Orthodox Christians. The plight of the Ukrainian people is of most concern globally, but war sows suffering widely and indiscriminately.

Of course, Christian people in Ukraine, here in Australia, and all over the world also pray “Give us today our daily bread, and forgive us our debts – as we forgive our debtors”. My pain at the petrol pump is a humbling reminder to me of much greater suffering elsewhere, and what my heart is to be towards friend and enemy alike.