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Pope lashes out at ‘potentate’ Putin over ‘anachronistic claims’ on Ukraine

Pope Francis on Saturday implicitly criticized Russian President Vladimir Putin over his invasion of Ukraine during a speech in the Maltese capital Valletta.

Without explicitly mentioning Putin or the war in Ukraine, the pope touched on “the wind blowing from the east of Europe,” according to the Vatican’s news agency Vatican News.

“The icy winds of war, which bring only death, destruction and hatred in their wake, have swept down powerfully upon the lives of many people and affected us all,” Francis said, adding that “once again, some potentate, sadly caught up in anachronistic claims of nationalist interests, is provoking and fomenting conflicts, whereas ordinary people sense the need to build a future that will either be shared or not be at all.”

The pope had previously called the war in Ukraine a “massacre,” and “unacceptable armed aggression,” but had never before had such a relatively unconcealed go at Putin.

On Saturday, he used the opportunity during his trip to Malta to depict the island EU member country as an incentive to end all war. “Malta, which shines brilliantly in the heart of the Mediterranean, can serve as an inspiration to us, for it is urgent to restore beauty to the face of a humanity marred by war,” he said.

Francis deplored the return of animosities across the world and what he perceived as waning enthusiasm for peace, which he said goes along with increased investments in the armaments industry.

“In this way … not only peace but also so many great questions, like the fight against hunger and inequality are no longer on the list of the main political agendas,” he said.

Later on Saturday, the pope set off a series of tweets about migration, including one calling for a broadly shared effort to help those displaced from Ukraine.

“The growing migration emergency — here we can think of the refugees from war-torn Ukraine — calls for a broad-based and shared response,” the tweet read. “Some countries cannot respond to the entire problem, while others remain indifferent onlookers!”

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