Pope Francis Urges Ukraine to Have ‘Courage of the White Flag’ in Peace Talks

Reuters/Guglielmo Mangiapane
Reuters/Guglielmo Mangiapane

Pope Francis made some of his strongest comments yet on Russia’s war against Ukraine in a newly released interview, declaring that Ukraine should be open to having the “courage of the white flag” as it contemplates peace negotiations.

The interview, with Swiss outlet RSI, took place last month and is scheduled to be released later this month, according to Reuters, which obtained an early copy of the transcript.

A spokesperson for the Vatican said that Francis was mirroring the interviewer’s language when he used the “white flag” term, and that he was intending to push for a “stop to hostilities.”

The question posed to Francis asked him whether Ukraine might legitimize Russia’s behavior if it were to concede defeat.

“It is one interpretation, that is true,” the pope replied. “But I think that the strongest one is the one who looks at the situation, thinks about the people and has the courage of the white flag, and negotiates.” He urged the countries’ leaders to turn to the international community for help facilitating the peace process.

“One may feel shame,” he added, referring to negotiations. “But how many dead will [the war] end up with? ...Do not be ashamed of negotiating before things get worse.”

Francis said that he would be open to mediating himself. He previously dispatched a peace envoy to U.S., Russia, and Ukraine to try to expedite the process.

“The word negotiate is a courageous word. When you see that you are defeated, that things are not going well, you have to have the courage to negotiate,” he reiterated.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky is open to peace, he has indicated, provided that Russian forces leave Ukraine and its original borders are reinstated. Russian President Vladimir Putin has flatly rejected such demands.

Earlier this week, Turkish leader Recep Tayyip Erdogan offered to organize a peace summit, though it is not clear whether the proposal will gain traction.

Read more at The Daily Beast.

Get the Daily Beast's biggest scoops and scandals delivered right to your inbox. Sign up now.

Stay informed and gain unlimited access to the Daily Beast's unmatched reporting. Subscribe now.