Pope Francis assured that he was willing to travel to kyiv, but on the condition that he also go to Moscowto offer the leaders of Ukraine and Russia the “peace service” promoted by the Vatican with the aim of ending the war that began more than a year ago.
“I am ready to go to kyiv. I want to go to kyiv. But on the condition that I go to Moscow. I go to both places or neither”said the Supreme Pontiff in an interview, in which he considered that a trip to the Russian capital “is not impossible.”
On the eve of his tenth anniversary of his pontificate, the Pope also referred to the Russian president, Vladimir Putin: “He is cultured. He visited me here three times as head of state and you can have a high-level conversation with him.”
“We talked about literature once. A man who not only speaks Russian, he speaks German perfectly, he speaks English. He is educated. A culture is something that is acquired, it is not a moral profession. They are two different things”said Jorge Bergoglio.
When asked if what was happening in Ukraine was a “genocide”, the Supreme Pontiff replied that this is a “technical word” and, therefore, “I would not know how to define it”, although I clarify that “When schools, hospitals, shelters are bombed, the impression is not so much to occupy a place, but to destroy”.
Another question he was asked was whether it is likely that there will be a meeting in the Vatican between Putin and Ukrainian President Volodimir Zelensky. “So, Zelensky and Putin, I don’t know. But a world meeting of world delegates on this is plausible.”
In this sense, Francisco asserted that there is no peace plan promoted by the Vaticanbut what does exist is a “peace service”, which he defined as diplomatic work that has the “desire to serve peace”.
“For example, in India, (Prime Minister Narendra) Modi is very concerned. And Modi is a balanced man who can perfectly call to dialogue with both. An example. There are other heads of state. And under the table he is working, “he said about it in dialogue with The nation.
He also referred to his “excellent relationship” with the Russian ambassador to the Holy See: “A man whose credentials I received seven years ago. The son of a Ukrainian mother, a Russian father, knows the conflict well. He is a very serious, professional man, you can talk. And while you can talk, let’s go forward.”
The Argentine pope recalled that, on the second day of the large-scale invasion against Ukraine, launched by the Kremlin on February 24 last year, he went to the Russian delegation in the Vatican and offered to travel. “The Minister (of Foreign Relations, Sergei) Lavrov replied to me saying that he thanked me so much, that they took it into account, but obviously not for the moment. Now, at this moment, the Vatican is doing something more diplomatic to see if something can be achieved.”he detailed.
Francis too He recalled that he had spoken to Zelensky twice by phone since the start of the invasion and that they had planned an audience with the president’s wife.Olena Zelenska, but “suspended it with the latest bombings.”
“He said that he was not suspending it but that he was postponing it until the moment he could travel”he added.