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(LifeSiteNews) — Pope Francis was severely criticized over the weekend for echoing a now long-held position by presumptive Republican nominee, former President Donald Trump. Both leaders believe hostilities in the Ukraine war should come to an end and the two parties should begin negotiations for peace.

Having granted a video interview to a Swiss television station in February, a portion of which was released on Saturday, the pontiff said that Ukraine’s real strength and courage would be manifested by negotiating for peace.

“I believe that the stronger one is the one who sees the situation, who thinks of the people, who has the courage of the white flag, to negotiate,” the pope said. “The word ‘negotiate’ is a courageous word. When you see that you are defeated, that things are not going well, it is necessary to have the courage to negotiate.”

In a sharp response, Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba tweeted (on X), “The strongest is the one who, in the battle between good and evil, stands on the side of good rather than attempting to put them on the same footing and call it negotiations.’”

And with regard to the image of the “white flag,” Kuleba wrote, “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.”

Poland Foreign Minister Radosław Sikorski added, “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.”

In an effort to clarify the pope’s comments later that day, Vatican spokesman Matteo Bruni said the term “white flag” was an image used in the interviewer’s question that the pope redefined as symbolizing “a cessation of hostilities, a truce reached with the courage of negotiation.”

Additionally, Bruni said, “elsewhere in the interview, speaking of another situation of conflict, but referring to every situation of war, the Pope clearly stated: ‘Negotiations are never a surrender.’”

READ: ‘Monumental provocation’: How US and international policy-makers deliberately baited Putin to war

With Russia’s Special Military Operation having entered its third year, the devastation on Ukraine has been severe with estimates of around 400,000-500,000 military deaths, numbers of displaced civilians around 10 million (6.3 million outside the country) and the average age of soldiers rising from 32.5 to 43.

With the law already including men up to the age of 60 as being eligible for conscription, the Ukrainian government adjusted its policy last fall to include women with medical backgrounds up to this same advanced age as well.

And given the war’s tremendous toll on the lives of young Ukrainian men, with many wishing to evade the draft, the government has resorted to sending out officers to abduct men off the street, sometimes assaulting them in the process, and delivering them to enlistment offices.

Additionally, through bribes or smuggling, the Guardian reported last year that tens of thousands of men have left the country illegally to avoid compulsory military service, with some dying in the process or others being arrested at the border.

Sharing a video of such an incident on Twitter/X, entrepreneur and investor David Sacks concluded that “Ukraine is now the largest prison state in the world,” with X CEO and billionaire Elon Musk replying, “So many have died over the past year for no progress. How many more must die?”

While knowledgeable commentators have assessed for many months that Ukraine had already lost the war against Russia long ago, former weapons inspector and U.S. Marines officer Scott Ritter addressed the future for the war in Ukraine during a Monday interview with Judge Andrew Napolitano.

“The bottom line is the Ukrainians have run out of troops. They don’t have prepared defenses and the Russians ain’t running out of anything,” said the three-time author, who added he expects the Russian progression to be an “inexorable, grinding operation” into the coming months.

He went on to summarize the view of Russian General Apti Alaudinov, stating he “expects dramatic changes in the battlefield situation by May,” which Ritter thought meant “the collapse of the Ukrainian forces and a precipitous withdrawal to the Dnieper River” with the war being over by September.

And even if a pending $61 billion aid package is passed by the U.S. Congress, the shortage of troops and the time lapse to manufacture more weapons for the war negates any chance of turning the momentum against the Russian army, Ritter said.

In comments to the Swiss television outlet, Pope Francis urged parties to the war in Ukraine to “not be ashamed to negotiate before things get worse.”

“Negotiations are never a surrender,” he said. “It is the courage not to carry a country to suicide.” Ukrainian leaders “may feel ashamed, but with how many deaths will it end?”

In response to a question from a CNN town hall moderator last May, Trump affirmed the same priority of ending all the killing from this conflict.

Asked if he wanted Ukraine to win the war, he replied, “I don’t think in terms of winning and losing. I think in terms of getting it settled so we stop killing all these people.”

He went on to pledge that “If I’m president, I will have that war settled in one day, 24 hours,” explaining he would meet with both Putin and Zelensky right away “and within 24 hours, that war will be settled. It’ll be over. It’ll be absolutely over.”

In responding to the Pope’s remarks, Russian government spokesman Dmitry Peskov said Monday that these calls echo repeated calls by Moscow for negotiation.

“The idea that (the Pope) spoke about is quite understandable,” Peskov said. “You know that (Russian President Vladimir Putin) has repeatedly spoken about our readiness and openness to solve our problems through negotiations and this is the preferred way.”

Yet, the Kremlin spokesman also noted that the pontiff’s calls for negotiation as well as those from other nations, including Russia, “have recently been met with an absolutely harsh rejection by the Kiev regime.”


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Tell Congress to stop the Biden administration from funding wars in Ukraine and Israel