Ukraine needs weapons, not white flags, and Stoltenberg (NATO) responds to the Pope – 03/11/2024 at 10:45 pm

Flag raising ceremony at NATO headquarters after Sweden joined the alliance, Brussels

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said on Monday that Ukraine needs weapons against Russia, in response to Pope Francis, who called on Kiev to have “courage” to wave the white flag to end the conflict.

“If we want a lasting peaceful solution, the way to achieve it is to provide military support to Ukraine,” Jens Stoltenberg told Reuters.

The Secretary-General of NATO announced in an interview at NATO headquarters in Brussels that “what happens around the negotiating table is closely linked to the balance of power on the battlefield.”

He added, “Now is not the time to discuss the Ukrainians' surrender. That would be a tragedy for the Ukrainians. It would also be dangerous for all of us.”

In an interview with Swiss radio RSI last month, Pope Francis said Ukraine must have “courage” to wave the white flag and “negotiate” a truce with Russia.

Ukraine rejected the Pope's calls, and the Ukrainian Foreign Ministry made clear that Kiev would never surrender.

The Ukrainian Foreign Ministry summoned the papal nuncio to Ukraine to express its “disappointment” with Pope Francis’ statements.

Kiev expected that the Pope would send “signals to the international community about the need to immediately unite forces to ensure the victory of good over evil,” according to a statement published on the website of the Ukrainian Foreign Ministry.

Ukraine insists that it will not hold talks with Russia until Russian forces leave its territory.

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“It is completely understood that (the Pope) supports negotiations,” the Kremlin spokesman responded, adding that Vladimir Putin was open to peace talks.

“Unfortunately, the statements of the Pope and other parties, including ours, were categorically rejected,” Dmitry Peskov told reporters.

Volodymyr Zelensky presented a ten-point peace plan at the G20 summit in November 2022. It specifically provides for the restoration of Ukraine's territorial integrity and the complete withdrawal of Russian forces.

The Kremlin described the peace plan as “ridiculous.”

(Reporting by Andrew Gray; French version by Zéphane Liu; Editing by Sophie Loyt)

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