The Diocese of the Russian Orthodox Church in Australia is appalled at the loss of innocent lives in the MH- 17 disaster. There can be no argument to support the deliberate shooting down of a civil aircraft at any time or anywhere.

The Church expresses its sincere condolences to the families of all the victims and prays for the souls of those so tragically lost.

The Church also prays for an end to the conflict which has so dramatically divided the sister nations of Russia and the Ukraine. We urge all nations to assist in finding a peaceful path to negotiations and to stopping the bloodshed in the Lugansk and Donetz Regions of the Ukraine. Since the beginning of the conflict we have included petitions and prayers in all our services for peace in Ukraine and we will continue to do so. We urge everyone to pray for the Ukraine in their private daily prayers as well.

The Church is concerned that much of the rhetoric appearing in the media is biased and ill-informed; based upon the geo-political aspirations of certain stakeholders, which can only lead to further conflict and, God forbid, outright war. Furthermore, the Church is mindful that the Russian and Ukrainian communities in Australia, which have lived in harmony for over half a century, may have that coherence destroyed and thus do irreparable damage to the concept of a multicultural society based on mutual respect and co-existence.

The Russian Orthodox Church in Australia prays that this conflict is resolved peacefully where all those involved are winners, and that there are no losers to endure the seeds of future strife.

May Our Saviour Jesus Christ, who is the King of Peace, settle the hearts and minds of all those in authority to bring a true and lasting peace to the peoples of the Ukraine, and preserve our planet from another global conflagration.