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Russia, Ukraine respond to Pope Francis's 'Kyiv should have courage of the white flag of negotiations' remarks

Pope Francis has said that Ukraine should have what he called the courage of the "white flag" and negotiate an end to the war with Russia that followed Moscow's full-scale invasion two years ago and that has killed tens of thousands.

Edited By: Ajeet Kumar @Ajeet1994 Moscow Published on: March 11, 2024 13:07 IST
Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelenskyy with Pope Francis
Image Source : AP/REUTERS Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelenskyy with Pope Francis

Moscow: Russia said Pope Francis's call for talks with Moscow to end the war in Ukraine was a request to Kyiv's Western allies to abandon their ambition to defeat Russia and to recognise the West's mistake in the Ukraine war, Italy's ANSA news agency reported.

Pope Francis has said that Ukraine should have what he called the courage of the "white flag" and negotiate an end to the war with Russia that followed Moscow's full-scale invasion two years ago and that has killed tens of thousands.

"The way I see it, the Pope is asking the West to put aside its ambitions and admit that it was wrong," the ANSA news agency quoted Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova as saying.

Zakharova said that the West was using Ukraine as an instrument of its ambitions to weaken Russia. As for Russia, "we have never blocked the negotiations," she said, adding that the situation in Ukraine was "at a dead end".

What did Zelenskyy say

Ukraine on Sunday rebuffed Pope Francis's call to negotiate an end to the war with Russia, with President Volodymyr Zelenskyy saying the pontiff was engaging in "virtual mediation" and his foreign minister saying Kyiv would never capitulate.

"The strongest is the one who, in the battle between good and evil, stands on the side of good rather than attempting to put them on the same footing and call it “negotiations”. At the same time, when it comes to the white flag, we know this Vatican's strategy from the first half of the twentieth century. I urge to avoid repeating the mistakes of the past and to support Ukraine and its people in their just struggle for their lives. Our flag is a yellow and blue one. This is the flag by which we live, die, and prevail. We shall never raise any other flags," said Dmytro Kuleba, Ukraine's Foreign Minister.

Russian President Vladimir Putin sent thousands of troops into Ukraine in February 2022, triggering a full-scale war after eight years of conflict in eastern Ukraine between Ukrainian forces on the one side and pro-Russian Ukrainians and Russian proxies on the other.

Did Putin ask Ukraine for a ceasefire in 2022?

Putin says that shortly after he sent troops into Ukraine, Moscow and Kyiv almost agreed on a ceasefire but that it was torpedoed by Britain. Reuters reported last month that Putin's suggestion of a ceasefire in Ukraine to freeze the war was rejected by the United States after contacts between intermediaries. Putin casts the Ukraine war as an existential battle between sacred Russian civilisation and an arrogant West which he says is in cultural, political and economic decline and which sought to humiliate Russia after the 1991 fall of the Soviet Union.

The West casts Putin's invasion as an imperial-style land grab that challenges the post-Cold War international order and pits Russia against the West. Ukraine says it is fighting for its existence and will not rest until every last Russian soldier is ejected from its territory. Zelenskyy said last week that Russia will not be invited to the first peace summit due to be held in Switzerland.

(With inputs from agencies)

Also Read: 'India's PM Narendra Modi, Chinese President Xi Jinping helped avert nuclear crisis in Ukraine in 2022: Report

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