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Zelensky Defiantly Rejects Pope Francis’ Call for Negotiation: Upholding Ukraine’s Unyielding Sovereignty Amidst Calls for Peace

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky indirectly criticized Pope Francis’ recent remarks that Ukraine should “have the courage to raise a white flag,” meaning that Ukraine should negotiate with Russia.

In an evening video address, Zelensky thanked Ukrainian religious leaders who are on the front lines “protecting life and humanity” and showing support “with prayers, conversations, and actions.”

“This is the Church,” he said, “being with the people, not being somewhere 2,500 kilometers away, de facto mediating between those who want to survive and those who want to destroy you,” he said, referring to the pope’s comments were made in an interview with Swiss broadcaster RSI.

Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba also said on social media, “Our flag is yellow and blue. We live, die, and win under this flag. We should never raise it Any other flag.” He vowed to “never” surrender.

Kuleba called on the pope to stand on the “side of good” and not to put the opposing sides “on equal footing and call it ‘negotiation'”.

He also thanked the Pope for his “continuous prayers for peace” and expressed Kyiv’s hope that the Pope would visit Ukraine.

Vatican spokesman Matteo Bruni responded to criticism of the pope by saying he urged “a cessation of hostilities and a ceasefire with the courage of negotiations” rather than for Ukraine to surrender.

The pope urged Ukraine to “have the courage to negotiate” to stop the war with Russia, according to the text and part of a video of last month’s interview with the pope that was provided to Reuters by Swiss TV station RSI on Saturday.

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Bruni said the pope made the remarks in response to a question posed by interviewer Lorenzo Buccella. Butchera used the term “white flag” to refer to peace talks initiated by Ukraine. “In Ukraine, some people call for surrender and the courage of the white flag. But others say it would legitimize the stronger side. What do you think?”

Francis said, “This is one interpretation; “This is true.” “I think the strongest party is the one who assesses the situation, thinks about the people, and has the courage to negotiate with the white flag,” and the negotiations should be carried out with the help of international powers.

This interview is scheduled to be broadcast on March 20.

Cardinal Timothy Dolan warned Sunday against reading the pope’s remarks out of context.

He said, “It will always be difficult to understand if you don’t read the full text. Because when the Pope says something, he is very subtle.” He also said that the Pope was suggesting a dialogue, not a brief restatement. He said the Vatican later interpreted the pope’s remarks.

He said, “So the Ukrainian people must maintain your courage because the world admires your courage.”

Ukrainian Greek Catholic Archbishop Sviatoslav Shevchuk also said on Sunday that Ukrainians do not want to surrender.

Shevchuk told the media’s Ukrainian service that he, like all Ukrainians, was probably “shocked” by the pope’s speech. But he was relieved when the Vatican clarified that the pope’s words really meant “ready to negotiate.”

Other Kyiv officials and many Ukraine allies also strongly criticized the pope’s speech.

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Polish Foreign Minister Radek Sikorski and Ukraine’s ambassador to the Vatican, Andrii Yurash, both used World War II metaphors to condemn the pope’s remarks, while the leader of a Ukrainian Christian church said on Sunday that Japan said that only Ukraine’s firm resistance to Russian aggression prevented the mass killing of civilians.

Sikorski said on social media, “People who [Ukraine] can defend themselves” are like the European leaders who “appeased” Hitler before World War II.

Zelensky has said that, while he wants peace, he will not give up any territory. Russia has ruled out peace talks on the terms proposed by Kiev.

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