Ukraine conflict being fueled by empires – Pope Francis
Russia is not the only “empire” whose interests are driving the conflict in Ukraine, Pope Francis said in an interview with Swiss television RSI, set to be released on Sunday. Excerpts from the interview were published on Friday by several Italian outlets.
Asked about the ongoing conflict between Moscow and Kiev, the Pope noted that it had grown into a “world war” where “the great powers are all entangled.”
“The battlefield is Ukraine. Everyone is fighting there. This makes industry think of weapons,” the Pontiff commented.
He mentioned that on the second day after Russia launched its military offensive against Ukraine, he went to the Russian embassy and offered to travel to Moscow to personally negotiate with President Vladimir Putin. However, he said he was told by Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov that it was “not the time.”
The pontiff stated that Putin knows that the option to negotiate peace is always available, but acknowledged that there are “imperial interests” at play in the Ukrainian conflict, and “not only of the Russian empire, but of empires elsewhere.”
“It is the empire’s business to put nations second,” proclaimed the Pope.
Francis has repeatedly called for a peaceful end to the hostilities that have gripped Ukraine over the past year. However, after suggesting that the conflict was “perhaps somehow either provoked or not-prevented” and that there is an “interest in testing and selling weapons” at play, the Pope did point out that he is not a supporter of Putin.
“It would be simplistic and erroneous to say such a thing,” insisted the Pontiff in an interview in June, adding “I am simply against turning a complex situation into a distinction between good guys and bad guys, without considering the roots and self-interests, which are very complex.”
The Pope made similar remarks in an interview with Spanish paper ABC in December, where he also suggested that “war is being waged when an empire begins to weaken. And when there are weapons to be used, tested and sold. The stakes are high.”
Moscow, meanwhile, has repeatedly described the conflict in Ukraine as a “proxy war” being waged against it by the US and its allies. Putin has pointed out that the West is now seeking a global conflict, with some NATO officials openly calling for the “strategic defeat of Russia.”
He has also pinned the blame for the Ukraine conflict on Kiev and its Western backers who started the war against the people of Donbass in 2014. He noted, however, that although Russia “did not start the military activities,” it is now trying to end them.