In an interview with directors of European Jesuit cultural magazines, Francis also clarified that “it would be simplistic and wrong” to say that he is in favor of Vladimir Putin.
“We have to get away from the normal pattern of Little Red Riding Hood: Little Red Riding Hood was the good guy and the wolf was the bad guy. There are no good and bad metaphysicians here, abstractly. Something global is emerging, with very intertwined elements,” he said. As he had already done in an interview with Corriere della Sera in early May, the Pope again mentioned NATO’s “barking at Russia’s gates” as a trigger for the conflict, although he explained where he got that idea from.
“A couple of months before the war started, I met a head of state, a wise man, who speaks very little, very wise. And after talking about the things that he wanted to talk about, he told me that he was very concerned about the way NATO was moving. I asked him why, and he replied: “They are barking at the gates of Russia. And they don’t understand that the Russians are imperial and they don’t allow any foreign power to get close to them.” He concluded: “The situation could lead to war.” That was his opinion. On February 24 the war began. That head of state knew how to read the signs of what was happening”, he recalled.
“What we are seeing is the brutality and ferocity with which this war is being waged by the troops, usually mercenaries, used by the Russians. And the Russians prefer to send Chechens, Syrians, mercenaries. But the danger is that we see only this, which is monstrous, and not see all the drama that is unfolding behind this war, which was perhaps somehow provoked or not prevented. Notice the interest in testing and selling weapons. It is very sad, but in the end it is what is at stake, ”he continued. “ Someone could tell me at this point: but you are for Putin! No I’m not. It would be simplistic and wrong to say such a thing.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. While we see the ferocity, the cruelty of the Russian troops, we must not forget the problems to try to solve them”, he added.
Francisco recalled that for years, due to the various conflicts in the world, many of them forgotten, a “third world war has been taking place in pieces”, but he admitted that Ukraine is different. “What is happening now in Ukraine we see it that way because it is closer to us and touches our sensibilities more. But there are other countries far away – think parts of Africa, northern Nigeria, northern Congo – where the war is going on and no one cares. Think of Rwanda 25 years ago. Think of Myanmar and the Rohingya. The world is at war. A few years ago it occurred to me to say that we are experiencing the third world war in pieces. For me today the third world war has been declared.This is something that should make us reflect,” he said. “What’s wrong with humanity that has had three world wars in a century?” she wondered.
He also praised the courage of the Ukrainians. “Brave women. Brave people. A people that is not afraid to fight. A hardworking people and at the same time proud of their land. Let’s take into account the Ukrainian identity at this time. This is what moves us: to see that heroism. I would like to emphasize this point: the heroism of the Ukrainian people. What we have before our eyes is a situation of war of global interests, arms sales and geopolitical appropriation, which is martyring a heroic people ”.
Criticism of Russia
In these more than 110 days of the war, the Pope was criticized and considered “Filo-Russian” for never having mentioned Vladimir Putin in all his letters. Although he repeatedly alluded to him as being responsible for the aggression against Ukraine, as he did again today when he pointed to Russia as a “superpower” that wants to “impose itself against the principle of self-determination of peoples”, at the beginning of his Message for the IV World Day of the Poor, released by the Vatican.
“A few months ago, the world was emerging from the storm of the pandemic, showing signs of economic recovery that would bring relief to millions of people impoverished by job loss. A little serenity could be glimpsed that, without forgetting the pain of losing loved ones, promised to finally be able to return to direct interpersonal relationships, to meet again without limitations or restrictions. And it is then that a new catastrophe has appeared on the horizon, destined to impose a different scenario on the world”, he wrote at the beginning of this document. And he continued: “The war in Ukraine came to be added to the regional wars that in these years are bringing death and destruction. But here the picture is more complex due to the direct intervention of a ‘superpower’, that seeks to impose its will against the principle of self-determination of peoples. Scenes of tragic memory are repeated and once again the reciprocal blackmail of some powerful silences the voice of humanity that invokes peace.
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