Valentina di Giorgio
(ZENIT News / Rome, 29.11.2022).- On Monday, November 28, “America Magazine” published an interview with Pope Francis. One of the topics addressed was Russia and Ukraine. Journalist Gerard O’Connell asked the Pope the following: “in regard to Ukraine, many in the United States were confused by your apparent willingness not to criticize Russia directly for its aggression to Ukraine, preferring, instead, to speak in general of the need to put an end to the War, an end to the activity of mercenaries, instead of the Russian attacks and arms trafficking. How can you explain your position on this War to Ukrainians or to North Americans and others that support Ukraine?”
In a part of the interview, the Pope said:
“When I speak of Ukraine, I speak of a martyr people, a martyred people. If there is a martyr people there is someone that martyrizes it. When I speak of Ukraine, I speak of cruelty because I have much information on the cruelty of the troops that come.
Generally the most cruel are, perhaps, the peoples that are of Russia, but they aren’t of the Russian tradition, such as the Chechens, the Buryats, etc. The one invading is certainly the Russian State. That’s very clear. At times I try not to specify so as not to offend and rather condemn in general, although it’s well known who I’m condemning. It’s not necessary that I state the name and surname.”
That part of the answer, which isn’t all of it, is the one that led Maria Zajarova, spokesperson of the Foreign Affairs Ministry of the Russian Federation, to qualify the statement as beyond Russo-phobic: “This is no longer Russophobia but a perversion. Recall that in the nineties and at the beginning of 2000 they said exactly the contrary: that those that were torturing the peoples of the Caucasus were Russians, Slavs, and now we are told that it’s the peoples of the Caucasus that are torturing the Russians.”
However, the tension didn’t stop there: the Russian Ambassador to the Holy See , Alexander Avdeev, presented a formal complaint on behalf of his country: “Russia is indignant because the Pope insinuates that Russian military men committed alleged atrocities in the course of the special military operation in Ukraine,” reported ABC. For his part, the leader of the Chechen Parliament, Magomed Daudov, stated: “I don’t know how the Pontiff justified his statements, but there is not a single fact that indicates that the representatives of our nations have committed a war crime.”
This tension is happening a few days after Moscow expressed its assent for the Vatican to mediate in the conflict between Russia and Ukraine.