Pope Francis says that Russia’s invasion of Ukraine may have been provoked by NATO’s expansionist policies.
During an interview with the Italian daily newspaper Corriere Della Sera, the Pope said that the “barking of NATO at the door of Russia” may have prompted Putin’s invasion of Ukraine. He further expressed his reluctance at arming Ukraine, which continues to escalate the conflict.
As Rebel News reported last week, U.S. President Joe Biden has requested an additional $33 billion in funds to reinforce the Ukrainian military in support of its war against Russia. The sum is almost 10 times more than what the U.S. has already provided to Ukraine in terms of military assistance.
Despite the Pope’s reticence in aggravating the situation with the deployment of even more weapons on the field, Pope Francis deplored the brutality of the ongoing conflict and criticized the leader of the Russian Orthodox Church for defending Russia’s actions in religious terms.
Pope Francis warned that Patriarch Kirill of Moscow “cannot turn himself into Putin’s altar boy.”
Patriarch Kirill on Tuesday delivered a sermon at the Cathedral of the Archangel, stating that “we don’t want to go to war with anyone, Russia has never attacked anyone.”
“It’s amazing that a great and powerful country never attacked anyone,” he said. “It only defended its borders.”
In his remarks about Russia’s attitude toward Ukraine, the Pope described it as “an anger that I don’t know whether it was provoked but was perhaps facilitated” by NATO’s expansion into Russia’s neighbouring countries, the Wall Street Journal reported.
Russian President Vladimir Putin has consistently maintained that Ukraine’s attempts to join the NATO military alliance would result in a conflict — and has warned both NATO and Ukraine’s leadership from pursuing the partnership for years.
“In Ukraine, it was other states that created the conflict,” Pope Francis continued, without naming the guilty parties.
While the Pope did not call out the United States by name, he compared the conflict in Ukraine to other wars that he said were caused and aggravated by international interests: “Syria, Yemen, Iraq, one war after another in Africa.”
“I don’t know how to answer — I am too far away — whether it is right to supply the Ukrainians” with military assistance, he said of ongoing efforts by NATO-aligned nations to reinforce the Ukrainian military. “What’s clear is that in this land, arms are being tested… Wars are fought for this: to test the arms we have made.”