The Pope criticized Russia's Brutality in Ukraine but Suggests the War may have been Provoked
Pope Francis has criticized Russia for its actions in Ukraine, saying its troops are brutal and ferocious, praising brave Ukrainians fighting for survival.
But in a text interview with Jesuit media editors last month, he said the situation was not black and white and that the war "may have been provoked in some way".
“As we condemn Russia's brutal and ferocious forces, we must not forget the real problems if we want them to be solved,” Francis said, citing the military industry as one of the factors driving the war.
"It is true that the Russians thought it would be over in a week. But they were wrong. They did not come across a brave nation, a nation which is fighting for its survival and has a history of battles," he said, according to a transcript of the conversation from the Jesuit magazine Civilta Cattolica.
"I would really like to emphasize the heroism of the Ukrainian people. Before our eyes is a situation of world war, global interests, arms sales, geopolitical conquest, which make martyrs a heroic people," the pope said.
Francis said a few months before Vladimir Putin sent troops to Ukraine, he had met with the head of state, who expressed concern that "NATO is barking at Russia's gates" in a way that could lead to war.
"We do not see the whole drama behind this war, which is somehow either provoked or not prevented," the pope said.
Wondering rhetorically whether this did not make him "pro-Putin", he replied: "No, I am not. It would be simplistic and wrong to say such a thing."
In his comments, Francis also noted the "monstrous" use by Russia of Chechen and Syrian mercenaries in Ukraine.
He added that he hoped to meet with Russian Patriarch Kirill at an interfaith event in Kazakhstan in September. The two were scheduled to meet in Jerusalem in June, but the trip was canceled due to the war.
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