Pope Francis has declared “we are living [through] World War III”. He insisted the conflict is being looked at in too black-and-white amanner and said he would like to talk to Vladimir Putin directly.
The Pope told Jesuits working in Russia it was wrong to view the ongoing conflict as being between just Russia and Ukraine.
He said: “It is a mistake to think that it is only a war between Russia and Ukraine. No, this is a world war.”
The West has handed billions of dollars and equipment and weaponry to Ukraine to use against Russian forces.
In the UK, Prime Minister Liz Truss has claimed the energy crisis has been exacerbated by the sanctions imposed against Moscow, which led to retlitations by Putin.
The significant role played in the conflict by the West was recognised early on, with experts suggesting some countries could be considered to allies with Ukraine against Russia.
Bruce Fein, a constitutional expert and former associate attorney general in the Ronald Reagan administration, said in April: “The United States and several NATO members have become co-belligerents with Ukraine against Russia by systematic and massive assistance to its military forces to defeat Russia.”
He added these could be “systematic or substantial violations of a neutral’s duties of impartiality and non-participation in the conflict”.
Pope Francis also said, in a transcript released this week, that the war in Ukraine is being viewed too simplistically by the West.
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Pope Francis is convinced “there are international factors that contributed to provoke the war”.
He recalled that “a head of state, in December last year, came to tell me that he was very worried because NATO had gone to bark at the gates of Russia without understanding that the Russians are imperial and fear border insecurity”.
A large factor which facilitated Russia’s invasion of Ukraine was, the Pope added, “imperialism”: “When imperialisms feel threatened and in decline, they react by thinking that the solution is to go to war to rescue themselves, and also to sell and test weapons.”
Whatever the causes, he stressed the need for talks and for bringing an end to the war, which he described as being akin to a “World War III”.
The Pope explained that he has met with “Ukrainian envoys” but hopes above all to “talk to Vladimir Putin as long as he leaves me a small window for dialogue”.
Additional reporting by Maria Ortega.