The war in Ukraine is “perhaps somehow either provoked or not prevented,” Pope Francis said.

“What we are seeing is the brutality and ferocity with which this war is being waged by troops, mostly mercenaries, used by the Russians,” the pontiff reportedly said during a conversation with directors of cultural publications of the Society of Jesus on May 19. adding that the Russians “prefer to send forward Chechens, Syrians, mercenaries.”

“But the danger is that we see only this, which is monstrous, and we do not see the whole drama that is unfolding behind this war, which, perhaps, was either provoked by something or not prevented. sale of weapons. It’s very sad, but basically that’s what it’s all about,” he said.

The Pope said he was not “for” Russian President Vladimir Putin, but “simply against reducing complexity to the distinction between good and evil, without thinking about roots and interests, which are very complex.”

“While we see the ferocity, the brutality of the Russian troops, we must not forget about the problems in order to try to solve them,” he added.

Pope Francis said that prior to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, he met with a “head of state” who “was very concerned about how NATO was progressing.”

“I asked him why, and he replied: “They are barking at the gates of Russia. And they don’t understand that the Russians are imperial and don’t let any foreign power near them,” the Pope said, adding that an unnamed “head of state” had told him that “the situation could lead to war.”

Pope Francis also expressed his hope that he would be able to speak with the head of the Russian Orthodox Church, Patriarch Kirill, later this year after a meeting between the couple that was supposed to take place on Tuesday was ultimately postponed due to the war in Ukraine.

“I was supposed to meet him on June 14 in Jerusalem to talk about our business. But due to the war, by mutual agreement, we decided to postpone the meeting to a later date so that our dialogue would not be misunderstood,” Pope Francis. said.

The pope said he hopes to meet the Russian patriarch at a general assembly in Kazakhstan in September. The Pope recently canceled a trip to Africa due to a knee injury.

In a separate statement issued by the Vatican on Tuesday, the Pope said the invasion of Ukraine “has now been added to the regional wars that have brought great loss and destruction over the years.”

“However, here the situation is even more complicated due to the direct intervention of the “superpower” aimed at imposing its will in violation of the principle of self-determination of peoples,” the Pope said in a message to the Roman Catholic Church marking the World Day of the Poor, which will be celebrated in November.

Hada Messiah reported from Rome and Radina Gigova reported from London.

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