Ukraine Rejects Pope’s Call for Negotiation with Russia, Asserts National Identity

Ukraine has strongly rebuffed a call by Pope Francis for Kyiv to negotiate an end to its conflict with Russia, insisting that it will “never raise any other flags” than its national blue and yellow colors.

The Pope’s remarks, made in an interview with Swiss broadcaster RSI and scheduled to air on March 20, suggested that Ukraine should have the “courage of the white flag” and negotiate when faced with defeat. However, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky dismissed the comments as “virtual mediation” and emphasized the importance of Ukrainian chaplains on the frontline.

President Zelensky praised the role of Ukrainian chaplains in supporting life and humanity amidst the conflict, contrasting their active engagement with the perceived distance of virtual mediation. Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba echoed this sentiment, emphasizing Ukraine’s unwavering allegiance to its national flag.

The Pope’s remarks sparked criticism from various quarters, with some likening the suggestion of negotiation with Russia to advocating talks with Adolf Hitler during World War Two. Polish Foreign Minister Radek Sikorski questioned whether the Pope would similarly urge Russian President Vladimir Putin to withdraw his army from Ukraine.

In response to the backlash, Vatican spokesman Matteo Bruni clarified that the Pope’s reference to the “white flag” was metaphorical, indicating a truce reached through negotiation rather than surrender. He reiterated the Pope’s stance that negotiations should not be interpreted as capitulation.

The conflict in Ukraine has intensified in recent months, with Russian forces making significant advances. The situation has prompted international efforts to support Ukraine, including a proposed $60 billion aid package in the US Congress and discussions among European countries on further assistance to Kyiv.

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