Ukraine criticises Pope's call for talks with Russia

Pope Francis during his weekly audience in St Peter's Square
Pope Francis during his weekly audience in St Peter's Square Copyright Andrew Medichini/Copyright 2024 The AP. All rights reserved
Copyright Andrew Medichini/Copyright 2024 The AP. All rights reserved
By Euronews with Giorgia Orlandi
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In a TV exclusive, the Pope's envoy to Ukraine speaks to Euronews from Kyiv to clarify Pope Francis’s comments on negotiations to end the Russia-Ukraine war.

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Days after being criticised for a comment appearing to suggest that Ukraine surrender to Russia, Catholic Pope Francis on Wednesday issued a statement condemning all wars.

In an interview with Swiss broadcaster RSI, partially released on Saturday, the pontiff had suggested that Ukraine should have “the courage to raise the white flag” and open talks with Russia to end the two-year conflict.

His comments have been condemned by both Ukraine and its allies.

President Volodymyr Zelenskyy on Sunday said Francis was engaging in "virtual mediation" and his foreign minister said Kyiv would never capitulate.

In a post on X, formerly known as Twitter, the Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba said: “Our flag is blue and yellow. We live, die and win under it. We will not raise other flags.”

Then on Monday, the foreign ministry summoned the papal ambassador to Ukraine, Archbishop Visvaldas Kulbokas, to express Kyiv's disappointment in the pontiff's statement.

In an interview with Euronews, the archbishop said the Pope was not suggesting Ukraine surrender to Russia.

“When he used the term 'negotiations', the Pope implied that all parties should be involved in the process. Specifically, it should be the aggressors, in this case, Russia, who cease fire first and create conditions for negotiation,” he said.

He added that while talk about negotiation “might sound naive, given the unfavourable events of the past few years”, the Pope was suggesting that new approaches be explored to “ultimately find the most suitable form of negotiation, one that respects Ukraine and human lives”.

Kylbokas said that, the Vatican’s support for Ukraine goes beyond mere humanitarian aid and that various forms of assistance are being offered.

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