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Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy Alamy Stock Photo
War in Ukraine

Zelenskyy hits back at Pope Francis over 'white flag' comments about Ukraine war negotiations

Ukrainians of all faiths have contributed to the defence of their country since Russia invaded two years ago, Zelenskyy said.

UKRAINIAN PRESIDENT VOLODYMYR Zelenskyy responded harshly to Pope Francis after the pontiff made comments encouraging Ukraine to negotiate a peaceful resolution to its war with Russia. 

The comments made to a Swiss broadcaster over the weekend angered Ukrainians and their allies because the pope said that countries should “have the courage to raise the white flag and negotiate”. 

“I believe that the strongest are those who see the situation, think about the people, and have the courage to raise the white flag and negotiate,” Francis said in an interview conducted in early February and broadcast on Saturday by RTS.

Ukrainians of all faiths have contributed to the defence of their country since Russia invaded two years ago, Zelenskyy said in his evening address yesterday.

“Christians, Muslims, Jews – everyone… They support us with prayer, conversation, and deeds.

“This is what the church is — with people. And not two and a half thousand kilometres away, somewhere to mediate virtually between someone who wants to live and someone who wants to destroy you.”

“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,” Ukraine’s Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba said.

German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock also sharply criticised Pope Francis’s call for Ukraine to negotiate with Moscow.

“I don’t understand it,” Baerbock said in a talk show on public broadcaster ARD last night. 

“I think some things you can only understand if you see them for yourself,” added Baerbock, who has travelled to Kyiv several times since the start of the war.

When talking to children in Ukraine who are suffering because of the war, she said, “I ask myself: Where is the pope? The pope must know about these things.”

Baerbock said if Ukraine and its allies “don’t show strength now, there will be no peace”.

“We must stand by Ukraine and do everything we can to ensure that it can defend itself,” she added.

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. 

Includes reporting by AFP

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