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Zelenskyy rebukes Pope’s “white flag” remark

The Pope’s remarks have sparked widespread condemnation from Ukraine and its allies, with many interpreting them as a call for Ukraine to surrender.
Zelenskyy rebukes Pope's "white flag" remark
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy. Photo: president.gov.ua
Zelenskyy rebukes Pope’s “white flag” remark

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy responded to Pope Francis’ suggestion that Ukraine should raise the “white flag” and negotiate an end to Russia’s invasion.

https://twitter.com/i/status/1766951108486820223

“Russian murderers and torturers are stopped from advancing into Europe only because Ukrainians with weapons are holding them back under the blue and yellow flag,” Zelenskyy stated. “In Ukraine, once-white walls of houses and churches now lie scorched and ruined by Russian shells, showing eloquently who must stop for this war to end.”

Pope Francis has faced intense criticism over his comments, suggesting that Ukraine should have what he called the courage of the “white flag” to negotiate an end to the war with Russia. The head of the Catholic Church made the remarks in an interview recorded last month with Swiss broadcaster RSI, but partially released on Saturday.

“I think that the strongest one is the one who looks at the situation, thinks about the people and has the courage of the white flag, and negotiates,” Francis said, urging Ukraine not to be ashamed to negotiate.

Ukraine’s Ambassador to the Vatican, Andriy Yurash, will meet with Pope Francis in the near future to convey several “fundamental points for Ukraine,” Yurash told Radio Svoboda.

“Appeals should be directed not at Ukraine, but at Russia. Ukraine is the victim. Ukraine cannot under any circumstances accept the model of raising the white flag – because it is a matter of life and death,” said Yurash.

Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba has stated that Kyiv will not raise any flag other than its national one.

“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,” wrote Kuleba on X/Twitter. 

German politician Marie-Agnes Strack-Zimmermann, chair of the German parliament’s defense committee, expressed her shame as a Catholic.

“Before the Ukrainian victims raise the white flag, the Pope should loudly and unmistakably call on the brutal Russian perpetrators to take down their pirate flag — the symbol of death and Satan,” said Strack-Zimmermann.

Polish Foreign Minister Radoslaw Sikorski echoed this sentiment.

“How about, for balance, encouraging Putin to have the courage to withdraw his army from Ukraine? Peace would immediately ensue without the need for negotiations,” he wrote on X/Twitter.

In an attempt to clarify the Pope’s comments, Vatican spokesman Matteo Bruni explained that the journalist interviewing Francis used the term “white flag,” prompting the Pope to use it in his answer.

Bruni emphasized that the Pope supports a “diplomatic solution for a just and lasting peace” and that negotiation does not equate to surrender.

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