Pope Francis has said that NATO’s eastward expansion may have provoked Russian President Vladimir Putin into launching an attack against Ukraine.
In an interview published on Tuesday by Italian daily Corriere Della Sera, the pontiff speculated that “the barking of NATO at Russia’s door” could have driven Putin into launching the military campaign on February 24.
“I can’t say if it was provoked, but perhaps, yes,” he said.
Francis also said he requested a meeting with Putin during the early weeks of the conflict, but has still not received a reply. He said he had asked the Vatican’s top diplomat to contact the Russian president about setting up a meeting about three weeks into the hostilities.
“We have not yet received a response and we are still insisting,” he told the paper. “I fear that Putin cannot, and does not, want to have this meeting at this time. But how can you not stop so much brutality?” he added.