The interests of several countries, not only Russia, are driving the hostilities, the pontiff said
Russia is not the only “empire” whose interests are driving the conflict in Ukraine, Pope Francis said in an interview with Swiss TV RSI, to be broadcast on Sunday. Excerpts of the interview were published by various Italian media on Friday.
Asked about the ongoing conflict between Moscow and Kiev, the Pope noted that it had become a “world war” where “the great powers are all entangled.”
“The battlefield is Ukraine. Everyone is fighting there. This makes the industry think about weapons,” the Pontiff commented.
He mentioned that the second day after Russia launched its military offensive against Ukraine, he went to the Russian embassy and offered to travel to Moscow to personally negotiate with President Vladimir Putin. However, he said Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov told him it was “not the time”.
The pontiff stated that Putin knows that the option of negotiating peace is always available, but acknowledged that there are “imperial interests” at stake in the Ukrainian conflict, and “not only of the Russian empire, but of empires from other places”.
“It is the job of the empire to put nations second,” the Pope proclaimed.
Francis has repeatedly called for a peaceful end to the hostilities that have gripped Ukraine over the past year. However, after suggesting that the conflict was “perhaps in some way provoked or not prevented” and that there is an “interest in testing and selling weapons” at stake, the Pope noted that he is not a Putin supporter.
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“It would be simplistic and wrong to say something like that,” the Pontiff insisted in an interview in June, adding: “I am simply against turning a complex situation into a distinction between good and bad, without taking into account the roots and self-esteem. interests, which are very complex”.
The Pope made similar comments in an interview with Spanish newspaper ABC in December, where he also suggested that “a war is waged when an empire begins to weaken. And when there are weapons to use, test and sell. The stakes are high.”
Moscow, for its part, has repeatedly described the conflict in Ukraine as a “proxy war” waged by the US and its allies. Putin has pointed out that the West is now looking for a global conflict, with some NATO officials openly calling for the “strategic defeat of Russia”.
He has also blamed Ukraine’s conflict on Kiev and its Western supporters who started the war against the people of Donbass in 2014. However, he noted that while Russia “did not initiate the military activities,” now he is trying to finish them off.