Ukraine Responds to Pope's 'White Flag' Remarks

Zelensky, foreign minister, others don't seem inclined to surrender to Russia anytime soon
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 11, 2024 12:35 PM CDT
Ukraine Isn't Very Happy With the Pope
Pope Francis is seen delivering his message over St. Peter's Square at the Vatican on Sunday.   (AP Photo/Alessandra Tarantino)

Allies of Ukraine have been expressing their dismay at recently aired comments made by Pope Francis last month, in which he said Ukraine should have the "courage" to send up the "white flag" in its war with Russia, implying Ukraine should surrender. Now, a slew of Ukrainian officials are hitting back on that insinuation, suggesting that such a surrender or similar negotiations are never going to happen, reports NBC News. Some key quotes:

  • Dmytro Kuleba: "Our flag is a yellow and blue one," Ukraine's foreign minister posted Sunday on X. "This is the flag by which we live, die, and prevail. We shall never raise any other flags."
  • Zelensky: The Ukrainian president didn't mention Francis by name in his Sunday evening address, but he accused the pontiff of "virtually mediating" the war, per NBC. "Russian murderers and torturers are unable to march farther into Europe only because they are being held back by Ukrainians holding arms under the blue-and-yellow flag," Zelensky noted.
  • Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church: "Ukraine is exhausted, but it stands and will endure," said Archbishop Sviatoslav Shevchuk, per the AP. "Believe me, it never crosses anyone's mind to surrender." The church added that Ukrainians "cannot stop defending themselves, because capitulation means their death," per NBC.
  • Russia: On Monday, Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov said it was "quite understandable" that Francis made such a request, adding that his boss is ready to go through with such "negotiations," per Reuters. "Unfortunately, both the statements of the pope and the repeated statements of other parties, including ours, have recently received absolutely harsh refusals."
  • Vatican: A spokesman had previously indicated that Francis used the "white flag" terminology only because the interviewer had done so first, and that he wasn't suggesting outright surrender on Ukraine's part. Instead, the pope simply wants "a cessation of hostilities, a truce reached with the courage of negotiation," per NBC.
(More Ukraine stories.)

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