Franklin Graham Writes to Putin, Zelenskyy to Ask For a Cease-Fire During Holy Week

By Yonat Shimron
Graham cease fire ukraine
Franklin Graham, left, prays with Samaritan’s Purse chaplains and staff during a recent two-day visit to Lviv, Ukraine. (Photo courtesy of Samaritan’s Purse)

Fresh from a two-day visit to Ukraine, the Rev. Franklin Graham said he wrote to Russian President Vladimir V. Putin and Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskyy to ask for a cease-fire in the war in observance of Holy Week in the Western and Eastern Christian churches, which together span from April 10 to April 24.

Graham visited Ukraine this week to see the work that his humanitarian relief organization, Samaritan’s Purse, is doing to aid refugees and other victims of the war. He said he was not confident he’d get a response from Putin but said he viewed the message as necessary.

“If they can stop fighting for a week or 10 days, maybe they can stop fighting for two weeks,” said Graham, speaking by phone from his home in North Carolina. “If they stop for two weeks maybe they can stop for a month. If they stop for a month, maybe they can stop for good. You’ve got to start somewhere.”

Holy Week, which begins with Palm Sunday and concludes with Easter Sunday, begins April 10 on the Gregorian calendar observed among Western churches. Eastern Orthodox churches follow the Julian calendar and celebrate Holy Week beginning on April 17. The vast majority of Russians and Ukrainians are Orthodox Christians.

Graham, a conservative evangelical who met with Putin in 2015, has praised the Russian president in the past, mostly for his promotion of what some Christians view as “traditional family values.”

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Graham drew widespread criticism when he asked people to pray for Putin shortly before the war, but he has more recently said he doesn’t support war and agrees the U.S. and the West must sanction Russia.

Franklin Graham Samaritan's Purse
Rev. Franklin Graham (AP Photo/Jessie Wardarski)

Graham also has been strongly criticized for his close alliance with former President Trump and for reports in 2021 that Graham pressured Naghmeh Panahi to reconcile with her abusive husband, Pastor Saaed Abedini, in what many saw as a public relations move.

Earlier this month, Samaritan’s Purse set up an emergency field hospital in an underground parking garage in the western Ukrainian city of Lviv. It has since expanded its work to include three medical clinics — two in Lviv, one at the train station and the other at a bus station, and a third in Chernivtsi in southwest Ukraine.

Now the organization, pushing farther east, plans to open a second emergency field hospital by this weekend. Graham said he did not want to identify the location while the teams were setting up, but will make it public once the hospital is up and running.

The majority of people seeking medical attention at the Lviv hospital are Ukranians fleeing their homes and in need of medicines and treatment for ordinary ailments, Graham said. 

graham ukraine cease fire
Franklin Graham, right, recently visits with medical staff at a Samaritan’s Purse emergency field hospital in Lviv, Ukraine. (Photo courtesy of Samaritan’s Purse)

Lviv, just 44 miles from the Poland border, is about 340 miles west of Kyiv, the capital of Ukraine. The new hospital closer to Russian hostilities will be able to help soldiers and others injured in battles.

“We have orthopedic doctors, general surgeons and all the supplies so we want to be closer to where the injured are,” said Graham.

Asked if he worried for the safety of his staff, he said, “You’re always concerned, but it’s not going to stop us from doing what we need to do.”

About 160 Samaritan’s Purse staff and volunteers are in Ukraine now, according to Graham. He said the organization has also distributed some 90 tons of food. Samaritan’s Purse has not partnered with any other relief organization, though it is aware of an Israeli field hospital, also in Lviv.

Samaritan’s Purse is also funding the rescue and relief efforts of local Baptist and Pentecostal churches with $16 million in donations. Graham said that could double if the need continues.

graham ukraine cease fire
Franklin Graham looks at a map of Ukraine during a recent two-day visit to Samaritan’s Purse operations in Lviv, Ukraine. (Photo courtesy of Samaritan’s Purse)

He said he planned to go back to Ukraine during Holy Week to show solidarity with Christians there and to encourage them.

Asked if he saw any signals that Putin was planning to scale back its military offensive on Kyiv, the capital, as reported, he said he didn’t know.

“Regardless of whether he scales back or intensifies, we’re there to help the people. Samaritan’s Purse could possibly be there several years. The need is tremendous.”

Julie Roys contributed to this report.

Yonat ShimronYonat Shimron is a national reporter and senior editor for Religion News Service.



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13 thoughts on “Franklin Graham Writes to Putin, Zelenskyy to Ask For a Cease-Fire During Holy Week”

  1. In the postscript of the letter Graham should have mentioned that perhaps Vlad stop committing War Crimes and at the same time it could have also highlighted the atrocities that Russian forces are committing in reducing Ukrainian cities to dust.

    I know Graham and Putin are buddies and that Holy Week is important to both of them.

  2. Great background for the monthly fund-rasing letter. Sorry for the cynicism, but I have had my fill of Franklin Graham.

  3. Graham needs to stay out of it completely. If Zelensky abides by this out of respect for Christian conscience, Vlad will likely exploit the opportunity to his strategic advantage. Look at his behavior so far.
    War knows no sabbath, and those who rest will die. Once again Graham inserts himself into world affairs in ways he is not called to do. Zelensky needs to say “thanks but no thanks, you do your thing and I’ll do mine.”

  4. Is this the same Graham that told Christians to take an experimental injection if they want to be like Jesus? Does anyone else see something wrong with this picture? How much did the Feds pay him?

    “This is fraud on such a massive scale that it’s hard to comprehend the implications to our society. The DoD, and the entire federal government, have been caught mandating the use of deadly DNA-altering drugs that have now harmed millions of people. This is going to be the largest medical scandal in the history of the world. Nothing else comes close. This should bring down the Biden regime ultimately, and lead to massive reforms in such corrupt agencies as the FDA and the CDC — as well as criminal indictments for figures in Big Pharma and Big Government like Fauci and Bourla. The federal government has recklessly gambled with the health of the American people.”

      1. Tom, Do you believe Jesus is the Son of God? If so, was a decision from an “official” court of law the reason why you do? If a court (or multiple courts) ruled against him in this regard, then would it affect your personal position?

        Did Jesus ever lie one time?

        How many lies have been uncovered in the history of the pharmaceutical companies, the CDC, the FDA, the DoD, or people like Fauci and Collins?

        Would you care to share how much effort, driven by common sense and reason, have you taken to uncover evidence that we are being lied to by these parties?

        In case you haven’t done much investigating I highly recommend you not using Google, but rather a search engine like Brave.

        1. Kenly: I’m not sure why you want to question me about my religious beliefs. The burden of proof is on you to prove this false claim you have made. If there was proof a certain party would be pursuing this vigorously. They are not.

  5. The only one Graham should be writing to is his buddy Putin who’s the cause of the war in the first place.

  6. Tom, my point was (in case you were making the fallacious appeal to authority argument) that people frequently make very important judgements apart from a court of law setting.

    You said: “ if there was proof a certain party would be pursuing it.”

    And who is this party?

  7. The one thing FG did right was to urge Christians to pray for Putin. The reaction against this is peculiar for the large minority of Christians in the US. And the prayer? That he might repent; of course.

  8. It is my understanding that just like Trump he will not condemn Putin. What would Putin have to do for Graham to condemn him?

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