Zelensky's office has claimed Pope Francis has become an "instrument of Russian propaganda" due to his comments this week given by video feed to Russian Catholics at a church in St. Petersburg.
On Tuesday we featured Francis' comments and the controversy they unleashed. The Vatican later sought to clarify that the pontiff intended to merely "encourage young people to preserve and promote what is positive in Russia's great cultural and spiritual heritage, and certainly not to exalt imperialistic logics and governmental personalities, cited to indicate certain historical periods of reference."
Mikhail Podoliak, a top aide to Ukraine’s President Vladimir Zelensky, has charged the Francis is playing into Putin's hands with what is a "destructive discourse for contemporary humanism" - according to a fresh interview given Italian newspaper Corriere della Sera published Wednesday.
The pope had praised great leaders of Russia's past, extolling the young the remember these positive examples, and invoked figures like Tsar Peter I and Catherine the Great.
Podoliak claimed that Pope Francis parroted Kremlin talking points which are by design intended to motivate Russian forces which have invade Ukraine. "The Pope exalts them and [President of Russia Vladimir] Putin uses them to eliminate our identity,” he asserted.
According to more from the Ukraine presidential adviser:
"If we evaluate the Pope’s phrases with an open mind, we’ll see that they are an unconditional encouragement of aggressive imperialism, a praise for the bloody idea of the ‘Russian world,’ which implies brutal destruction of freedoms and the lifestyles of others," Podoliak said.
..."It seems that the Pontiff, once again, has served as an instrument of Russian propaganda."
On Tuesday, when the clip of Pope Francis' words given virtually went viral, Kremlin praised the remarks, saying it is "very good that the Pontiff knows Russian history, which is deeply rooted."
The Pope has of late tried to mediate peace in Ukraine, but to no avail. Kiev is likely now more distrustful than ever, also after Francis heaped criticism on arms makers from Western countries for fueling the bloodshed in comments from months ago.