THE VATICAN, May 3. /TASS/. Pope Francis does not rule out that NATO played a negative role in the escalation of the Ukrainian crisis.
"[Possibly], NATO barking at Russia’s doorstep led to the Kremlin’s reaction. The ire, I don’t know whether it was provoked but was probably facilitated," he said in an interview with Corriere della Sera on Tuesday.
"One cannot think that one free country can wage war in another free country," the Pope said reiterating his thesis on "piecemeal" Third World War. "I am just stating the reality. Syria, Yemen, Iraq, in Africa there is one war after another. And international interests stand behind all of them," he explained. "In Ukraine, the conflict was created by others," the Pope added.
On February 24, Russian President Vladimir Putin said in a televised address that in response to a request by the heads of the Donbass republics he had made a decision to carry out a special military operation in order to protect people "who have been suffering from abuse and genocide by the Kiev regime for eight years." The Russian leader stressed that Moscow had no plans of occupying Ukrainian territories. Following this, the US, the EU, the UK and a number of other countries announced the introduction of sanctions against Russian legal entities and private individuals.