‘Even out of love for his own people…’: Pope Francis begs Putin to end war in Ukraine

For the first time since the start of the war, Pope Francis on Sunday called on Russian President Vladimir Putin to end the “spiral of violence and death” in Ukraine, saying the never-ending crisis could cause a nuclear crisis. escalation with uncontrollable global consequences.

Speaking to thousands in St. Peter’s Square, Francis condemned Putin’s latest annexation of parts of Ukraine as contrary to international law. He urged Putin to think of his own people in the event of an escalation.

“My appeal goes above all to the President of the Russian Federation, pleading with him to stop this spiral of violence and death, even out of love for his own people,” Francis said in the speech.

Francis said he was haunted by the “rivers of blood and tears that have flowed between the two nations in these months of war”. He called on Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to be open to any “serious peace proposal” from Moscow in a “hopeful” appeal. He said it was “absurd” for the world to risk a nuclear conflict.

The Pope repeated the calls in a series of tweets.

“The war in Ukraine has become so serious, devastating and threatening that it is of great concern. In the name of God and of the sense of humanity that resides in every heart, I renew my call for an immediate ceasefire,” Francis said.

“I deeply regret the serious situation that has arisen in recent days, with further actions contrary to the principles of international law. Thus, the risk of nuclear escalation is increasing, raising fears of uncontrollable and catastrophic consequences worldwide,” he added.

A Vatican official noted that the speech was so gloomy it was reminiscent of a radio peace call by Pope John XXIII in 1962 during the Cuban Missile Crisis.

Referring to ethnic Russians living in Ukraine, Francis said it was also necessary to respect “the rights of minorities and (their) legitimate concerns.” He called it “terrifying” that people learned about the geography of Ukraine by naming places – such as Bucha, Irpin, Mariupol, Izium, Zaporizhzhia and other places – where people had suffered “indescribable suffering and anguish”.

“Let negotiations begin that will lead to solutions not imposed by force, but consensual, just and stable, based on respect for human life, as well as the sovereignty and territorial integrity of each country, and the rights of minorities,” he said. . said.

“After seven months of hostilities in Ukraine, let us use all diplomatic means, even those that have not been used until now, to put an end to this terrible tragedy. War is a mistake and a horror!” Francis tweeted.

On Friday, Putin announced the annexation of four regions of Ukraine, occupying nearly a fifth of the country, by placing them under Russia’s nuclear umbrella.

Kiev and its Western allies have condemned Putin’s annexations as illegal, and Zelensky has said his forces will continue to fight to retake all of the Ukrainian territory occupied by Russian forces.

Meanwhile, Ukraine on Sunday claimed full control of Lyman’s eastern logistics center, Kiev’s most significant battlefield gain in weeks.

(With input from the agency)

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