Due to the invasion of and subsequent war in Ukraine, all non-native missionaries in Russia, known as “volunteers,” have either returned home or been reassigned to various missions in Europe or the United States. Deteriorating relations with the Russian Federation have been a major factor in this decision. According to a statement from Church spokesperson Sam Penrod on February 25, “approximately 50 young volunteers have taken assignments outside of Russia, given the recent recommendation of many foreign governments advising against travel to Russia.”
On Feb. 25 the First Presidency also released a statement on armed conflict in general. The statement reads:
“We are heartbroken and deeply concerned by the armed conflict now raging. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has members in each of the affected areas and throughout the world. Our minds and hearts have been turned toward them and all our brothers and sisters.
We continue to pray for peace. We know that enduring peace can be found through Jesus Christ. He can calm and comfort our souls even in the midst of terrible conflicts. He taught us to love God and our neighbors.
We pray that this armed conflict will end quickly, that the controversies will end peacefully and that peace will prevail among nations and within our own hearts. We plead with world leaders to seek for such resolutions and peace.”
While the world looks for a solution to this conflict, the Church continues some of its operations in Russia. Eric and Elizabeth Ottesen, former mission president of the Russia Samara Mission, recently spoke with Nikolai Ustyuzhaninov, current mission president of the Rostov Mission. Due to the evacuation of non-native missionaries from Russia, President Ustyuzhaninov is currently supervising Rostov, Moscow, and St. Petersburg missions. There remain 10 native missionaries in those missions and another 5 in the Novosibirsk mission, for a total of 15 missionaries still in the country.
President Ustyuzhaninov said that Sunday and weekly meetings in these areas will continue under the guidance of local leaders and that the members and missionaries are facing these challenges with faith. President Ustyuzhaninov also said that prayers and fasting, for a peaceful resolution and for the well-being of members and non-members around the world, would be welcome.