Pope Francis weighed in on the Russian invasion of Ukraine, stating on Monday that the Kremlin was provoked into military conflict by NATO.
Speaking to the Jesuit magazine La Civiltà Cattolica, the head of the Catholic Church repeated his call for an end to the fighting in Ukraine, and cautioned the world not to view the ongoing conflict as a war between good and evil.
His remarks come as warmongers in the West, such as OSINT military advisors and former generals who serve on corporate boards and neoconservative think tanks call for an escalation of Western involvement against Russia.
Pope Francis previously condemned the war as a “macabre regression of humanity,” and said he was willing to sit down with Russian President Vladimir Putin to find a solution to end the conflict, UPI reported.
During the interview with the Catholic magazine on Monday, the pope suggested that an unnamed Western world leader previously expressed concern about NATO's eastward expansion and how it would provoke Russia into action against Ukraine.
Francis told the magazine that the leader, who he did not name, made those remarks prior to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine on February 24.
“A couple of months before the war started I met a head of state, a wise man, who speaks very little, very wise indeed,” Francis told the magazine. “He told me that he was very concerned about the way NATO was moving.”
“I asked him why, and he said, ‘They are barking at the gates of Russia. They do not understand that the Russians are imperialists and will allow no foreign power to approach them.’”
As detailed by UPI, NATO’s eastward expansion includes former Warsaw Pact states like Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Slovakia, and others. In recent weeks, both Sweden and Finland have applied for NATO membership in response to Russia’s attack on Ukraine.
Further along in the interview, the Pope said that anyone who views the war as a struggle between good and evil should move away from childish notions.
“Little Red Riding Hood was good and the wolf was the bad guy,” he said. “Here there are no metaphysical good guys and bad guys, in an abstract sense. Something global is emerging, with elements that are very much intertwined.”
Despite his calls for nuance, Francis says that he does not support Russia’s actions in Ukraine, and rejected accusations that he is “pro-Putin.”
“It would be simplistic and wrong to say such a thing,” he said.
“I am simply against reducing complexity to the distinction between good guys and bad guys without reasoning about roots and interests, which are very complex,” Pope Francis explained. “While we see the ferocity, the cruelty of Russian troops, we must not forget the real problems if we want them to be solved.”