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Pope Francis Alamy

Ukraine vows to 'never' surrender after Pope says it should have 'courage to raise white flag'

The interview with the Pope was recorded last month and partially published yesterday.

UKRAINE’S FOREIGN MINISTER has said Ukraine will “never” surrender after the Pope said Kyiv should “have the courage to raise the white flag”. 

Pope Francis made the comments in a video interview with Swiss broadcaster RSI, which was partially released yesterday.

In response, Ukraine’s Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba said on social media: “Our flag is a yellow and blue one. This is the flag by which we live, die, and prevail.

“We shall never raise any other flags.”

In the interview with RSI, Pope Francis said: “Don’t be ashamed to negotiate before things get worse”. 

“I think that the strongest one is the one who looks at the situation, thinks about the people and has the courage of the white flag, and negotiates,” the Pope said, when asked to weigh in on the debate between those who say Ukraine should agree to peace talks and those who argue that any negotiations would legitimise Moscow’s aggression.

“The word negotiate is a courageous word. When you see that you are defeated, when things are not going well, you have to have the courage to negotiate.

“One may feel shame, but how many dead will [the war] end up with?,” he asked.

The Pope’s comments have been criticised by Ukraine and her allies who have taken a longstanding view that Russia will not negotiate in good faith. 

Past experience has led Ukraine to believe that Moscow cannot be trusted

Taking to X/formerly Twitter, Poland’s Foreign Minister Radek Sikorski wrote: “How about, for balance, encouraging (Russian President Vladimir) Putin to have the courage to withdraw his army from Ukraine? Peace would immediately ensue without the need for negotiations.”

In a separate post, Sikorski drew parallels between those calling for negotiations while “denying (Ukraine) the means to defend itself” and European leaders’ “appeasement” of Adolf Hitler just before the Second World War.

A spokesperson for the Vatican has since clarified that the Pope supports a stop to hostilities and a truce rather than an outright surrender by Ukraine. 

With reporting from AFP and PA.