The holder of the highest seat in the Catholic Church, Pope Francis, said that the West is partly to blame for the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

In an interview with the Italian newspaper Corriere della Sera, the Pope said “that barking of NATO at the door of Russia” has pushed Vladimir Putin to invade Ukraine, which was not a part of the alliance.

“I have no way of telling whether his rage has been provoked, but I suspect it was maybe facilitated by the West’s attitude,” Pope Francis said.

China, a close strategic partner of Russia, has gone with the same narrative in the past – that the expansion of Western influence closer to Moscow, through increasing membership in NATO, has provoked Putin to launch an assault on Kyiv.