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Foreign Ministry summons Vatican envoy following Pope's call for Ukraine to negotiate with Russia

by Elsa Court and The Kyiv Independent news desk March 11, 2024 11:43 PM 2 min read
A view of the building of the Foreign Ministry in Kyiv on Feb. 2, 2024. (Ruslan Kaniuka / Ukrinform/Future Publishing via Getty Images)
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Ukraine's Foreign Ministry summoned Apostolic Nuncio to Ukraine Visvaldas Kulbokas on March 11 concerning Pope Francis' recent call for Kyiv to "not be ashamed to negotiate" with Moscow.

In an interview with Swiss broadcaster RSI that was partially released on March 9, Pope Francis said that Ukraine should have the "courage" to negotiate peace with Russia and raise the "white flag."

"Visvaldas Kulbokas was informed that Ukraine is disappointed by the Pontiff's words," the Foreign Ministry said in a statement.

"The head of the Holy See would be expected to send signals to the world community about the need to immediately join forces to ensure the victory of good over evil."

Foreign Ministry said that Ukraine is a country that "like no other, strives for peace," but peace "must be fair and based on the principles of the UN Charter."

Andrii Yurash, the ambassador of Ukraine to the Vatican, told Radio Svoboda on March 11 that the comments reflected Pope Francis' personal views and "do not reflect the position" of the Vatican.

President Volodymyr Zelensky responded in his nightly address on March 10 without mentioning the Pope directly, instead praising the bravery of Ukraine's military chaplains.

Russia is "not moving further into Europe only because they are being held back by Ukrainians with weapons in their hands and under the blue and yellow flag," Zelensky said.

In an interview with French broadcaster BFMTV on March 11, Zelensky said that a break in the fighting is "oxygen" for Russian President Vladimir Putin. "It is not to negotiate, it is a way of restoring the military capabilities of his army and training his young conscripts."

Other leaders also reacted to the Pope's remarks. German government spokesperson Steffen Hebestreit told reporters on March 11 that German Chancellor Olaf Scholz "does not agree with the pope on this question," adding that "Ukraine is defending itself against an aggressor."

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