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.

Since the start of the invasion in late February, the Pope has called for a peaceful resolution to the war and has condemned the violence happening on the ground. He, however, has neither explicitly called out Moscow nor Putin for launching its unjustified “special military operation.”

Now, the Holy See is pointing to NATO for taking in countries that were likely motivated to join the alliance because of national security concerns brought by Russia itself.

Pope Francis with the papal ferula used by John Paul II (Long Thiên, CC BY-SA 2.0 , via Wikimedia Commons). Source:
Pope Francis with the papal ferula used by John Paul II (Long ThiênCC BY-SA 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons)

Denouncing the Global Arms Trade

Francis commented on the Russians’ use of tanks, adding that Moscow has learned from its invasion that “tanks are useless.”

“The Russians have just found out that tanks are useless, and they might be developing new weapons. Wars are fought for this reason too: to test your arsenals,” he said.