Pope Francis has criticized the “ferocity” of Russian troops in the face of a “brave” Ukrainian people and claimed the war “could have been provoked”.
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In an interview with European Jesuit magazines conducted last month and published by Italian magazine La Civilta Cattolica on Tuesday, the sovereign pope refused to “reduce” the ongoing conflict to “a distinction between the good and the bad.”
“What we are seeing is the brutality and ferocity with which this war is being waged by the troops, usually mercenaries, deployed by the Russians. The Russians prefer to send Chechens, Syrians, mercenaries,” lamented François, who has multiplied calls for peace since the February 24 Russian invasion of Ukraine.
“But the danger is that we only see what is egregious without seeing all the drama that is playing out behind this war that was in some ways provoked or not prevented,” he said. before condemning the arms industry again.
“One could say to me at this point: ‘But you are for Putin!’ No I’m not. It would be simplistic and wrong to say such a thing,” added the Catholic spiritual leader, who felt it necessary to “reflect on the roots and interests” of this conflict, “which are very complex”.
“It’s also true that the Russians thought it would all be over in a week. But they miscalculated. You have found a courageous people, a people struggling to survive and with a history of struggle,” said the 85-year-old Argentine pope.
“Today the Third World War was declared for me. And that should give us food for thought. What happens to humanity that has experienced three world wars in one century? asked Francois.
The pope also confided that he had been warned by “a head of state” “a few months before the start of the war”. This head of state, “a wise man who speaks little”, said François, who did not name him, “was very concerned about the development of NATO”.
“I asked him why and he said, ‘They are barking at Russia’s gates. And they don’t understand that the Russians are an imperial power and will not allow any foreign power to approach them.’ He concluded: “The situation could lead to a war,” said the Holy Father.
On May 3, in an interview with the Italian daily Corriere della Sera, the Pope himself provoked “anger” in the Kremlin because he was “relieved” by “NATO’s barking at Russia’s door.”