Pope Francis tacitly criticized Russian President Vladimir Putin, regarding the ongoing Ukraine invasion, and described it as the “dark shadows of war”, Newsweek reported. 

His comments come at the start of the visit to Malta, and though the head of the Roman Catholic Church didn’t mention Putin by name, he slammed the war in eastern Europe. 

Francis said, “From the east of Europe, from the land of the sunrise, the dark shadows of war have now spread”, adding, “We had thought that invasions of other countries, savage street fighting and atomic threats were grim memories of a distant past”.

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The pontiff continued, “However, 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”, and further said, “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”. 

Earlier, when Pope Francis was asked whether he’d visit Ukraine, he said that it is on the table. President Volodymyr Zelensky had earlier invited the Pope to visit the war-torn nation as well. 

However, the Pope’s current comments on the nation come at a time when Russian forces are reportedly retreating with Ukrainians gaining some advantage over the invading force.

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Putin sent his troops into Ukraine on February 24, vowing to “denazify” and “demilitarize” the nation. Since then, the army hasn’t made a lot of ground progress but switched more to shelling, with cities like Mariupol facing the brunt of attacks. Putin stands accused of war crimes for targeting civilians and despite more promising talks of peace in recent times, there have been reports that the Russian president is determined to “thrash” the Ukrainians‘ offer.