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Pope Francis says Ukraine should have 'courage' to negotiate peace with Russia

by Kateryna Denisova March 9, 2024 11:58 PM 2 min read
Pope Francis delivers his Sunday Angelus blessing overlooking St. Peter's Square on July 30, 2023, in Vatican City, Vatican. (Photo credit: Vatican Media via Vatican Pool/Getty Images)
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Pope Francis said that Ukraine should have the courage to negotiate peace with Russia in an interview with Swiss broadcaster RSI recorded in February and made partially available on March 9.

While having repeatedly denounced Russia's full-scale invasion in the past and calling for peace, the Vatican had already come under criticism for the Pope's controversial statements about the war.

During the interview set to be broadcast on March 20, the Pope was asked about his position regarding those who call on Ukraine to surrender and those who say that this move would legitimize the aggressor. The interviewer used the "white flag" analogy in the question.

The Pope called this "an interpretation," saying: "Don't be ashamed to negotiate before things get worse."

"I think that the strongest one is the one who looks at the situation, who thinks about the people, who has the courage of the white flag, to negotiate," he said, adding that peace talks should involve international mediators.

In a statement released following the publication of the interview, the director of the Vatican Press Office, Matteo Bruni, clarified that the Pope didn't call for Ukraine's surrender, but for a ceasefire and negotiations. "His hope is a diplomatic solution for a just and lasting peace," Bruni said.

According to the Pope, there are many countries that would like to be mediators in the negotiations between Ukraine and Russia. He also confirmed his readiness to participate.

During a visit to Turkey on March 8, President Volodymyr Zelensky ruled out his Turkish counterpart Recep Tayyip Erdogan's idea of a peace summit with Russia. "We don't see how we can invite people who block, destroy, and kill everything," Zelensky said.

Ukraine has repeatedly said that peace talks should be held on the basis of its 10-step peace formula, which includes a full withdrawal of Russian troops from Ukraine. Moscow has rejected this proposal.

Opinion: 6 obstacles to peace negotiations between Ukraine and Russia
There is consensus among observers of Russia’s war against Ukraine that it should end as soon as possible. Most Ukrainians couldn’t agree more. Today, one suspects, many Russians would also not mind ceasing the carnage. Why, then, is there still not – and likely will not be any time

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