Russia Does Not Need Pope’s Peacemaking Efforts - Russian Expert

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Originally appeared at: TASS

Russia today does not need any mediation by the Pope as a peacemaker, although he takes a far more flexible position with respect to Ukraine in contrast to other Western figures, religious scholar Roman Lunkin, deputy director of the Institute of Europe under the Russian Academy of Sciences, told TASS in an interview on Wednesday.

"The Pope wants to maintain good relations with the Russian Orthodox Church, especially against the backdrop of the anti-Russian hysteria raging in the West. Pope Francis says he wants to go to Kiev and Moscow, but at the same time he avoids to unambiguously agree with the position of the collective West and Ukraine. On the one hand, the Pope, of course, is playing the Moscow card. He is trying to put pressure on political ambitions to show that he can break through this blockade, that he is able to go to Moscow to become one of those Western figures who are open to Russia and ready to build bridges to resolve this crisis. But I think that now neither the Russian authorities nor the Russian Orthodox Church need this," Lunkin said.

He believes that if the Pope's trip to Kiev is to take place in the end, it will follow a visit to Russia and a meeting with Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia.

"I think Pope Francis will not hurry to Kiev, because he knows well enough that [Ukrainian President Vladimir] Zelensky will be demanding from him that religious leaders condemn both the Russian Orthodox Church and Russia. He will not be asking for anything else and turn a deaf ear to all the rest. The Pope may find himself in a stupid position. He cannot afford to visit Kiev alone. Should he do that, the Pope will cease to be a peacemaker and become one of the parties to the conflict," Lunkin said.

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