Pope Francis has called Russia’s decision to invade Ukraine, ‘a shameful capitulation,’ as the Catholic Pontiff described President Vladimir Putin’s action as ‘stinging defeat before the forces of evil.’
The pope wrote separate tweets on Friday in English and Russian denouncing threats of war as ‘shameful capitulation’ and a ‘stinging defeat before the forces of evil.’
Before this statement was posted he visited the Russian embassy to express ‘great concern’ about the humanitarian impact of the invasion on the people of Ukraine.
The papal tweet read: “Every war leaves our world worse than it was before.
“War is a failure of politics and of humanity, a shameful capitulation, a stinging defeat before the forces of evil.”
Earlier on Friday, the Pope paid a visit to the Russian embassy in an “unprecedented departure from diplomatic protocol”.
Vatican spokesman Matteo Bruni said the Pope spent over half an hour at the embassy but would not divulge any details of the conversation.
Ambassador Aleksandr Avdeyev told the RIA Novosti news agency that the Pope “called for the protection of children, the protection of the sick and suffering, and the protection of people”.
The Pope’s visit to the embassy to discuss the ongoing conflict is believed to be the first of its kind in living memory, as ambassadors are generally summoned to go to the Pope instead.
He has proclaimed next Wednesday March 2, or Ash Wednesday, as a day of prayer and fasting for peace in Ukraine.
He has been suffering from sciatica nerve pain for some time that causes him to walk with a limp.
Meanwhile, Ukraine Government has announced it is setting up an “International Legion” that will allow citizens of foreign countries to join the fight against Russia.
Foreigners can come and “fight side by side with the Ukrainians against the Russian war criminals,”
Part of the statement which is also available on the presidential website reads:
“Anyone who wants to join the defense of Ukraine, Europe and the world can come and fight side by side with the Ukrainians against the Russian war criminals.”
It added: “A separate subdivision is being formed of foreigners entitled the International Legion for the Territorial Defense of Ukraine. There is no greater contribution which you can make for the sake of peace.”
Before the release of the official statement on Sunday announcing the “international recruitment program”, President Zelensky of Ukraine already said at his press briefing on Saturday morning: “Every friend of Ukraine who wants to join Ukraine in defending the country, please come over. We will give you weapons. It will be announced very shortly, how this can be done. Everyone who is defending Ukraine is a hero.”
Ukraine’s “international recruitment program” appears to also be backed by law.
According to the Regulations on Military Service in the Armed Forces by Foreigners and Stateless Persons, approved in 2016, foreigners can volunteer for the Armed Forces of Ukraine and the Territorial Defense Forces.