Vatican Attempts to Justify Pope's Words about "Great Russia"

The Holy See has attempted to clarify the controversial statement made by Pope Francis about "Great Russia," which sparked outrage in Ukraine.

According to Vatican News, Matteo Bruni, the head of the Vatican press office, stated that Pope Francis urged "not to magnify imperialistic logic."

"The Pope intended to encourage young people to preserve and promote all that is positive in the great Russian cultural and spiritual heritage, and certainly not to exalt imperialist logic and government personalities, mentioned to indicate some historical periods of reference," Bruni stated.

On August 25, Francis addressed participants of the 10th All-Russian Day of Catholic Youth in St. Petersburg.

In his speech, the Pope said, "Never forget your inheritance. You are the heirs of the great Russia. The great Russia of the saints, of the kings, of the great Russia of Peter the Great, of Catherine II, that great imperial Russia, cultivated, with so much culture and humanity," Francis said, according to the video clip. "Never forget this inheritance. You are the heirs of the great Mother Russia, go forward. And thank you. Thank you for your way of being, for your way of being Russian."

Interestingly, the Vatican's news outlet, Vatican News, posted the Pope's address on its website, but the quoted passage is absent. However, a video of the Pope's address with this quote is available online.

On Monday, the Ukrainian Foreign Ministry expressed regret due to the fact that Pope Francis spreads Russian great-power ideas, which the Kremlin uses to justify the murder of Ukrainians.

In additiion, his Beatitude Sviatoslav, head of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church (UGCC), said that he expected Pope Francis to explain the great-power ideas he had voiced at a meeting with Russian youth.

Earlier, in July, Pope Francis called on Russia to restore the Black Sea grain initiative, turning to "his brothers, the authorities of the Russian Federation."

Russian attacks killed 6, injure 11 over past day

Russian attacks against Ukraine killed 6 civilians and wounded 11 on Aug. 28, regional authorities reported.

Over the past day in Donetsk Oblast, five civilians were killed and four were injured due to Russian attacks on Aug. 28, Governor Pavlo Kyrylenko reported on Aug. 29.

One of the deaths and three of the injuries were due to a strike on Toretsk at around 6 p.m. local time on Aug. 28. The Donetsk Oblast Prosecutor's Office said that Russian forces most likely used cluster munitions, killing a 39-year-old woman.

One person was killed, and four were injured due to Russian attacks on Kherson Oblast, the regional military administration reported on Aug. 29.

A 63-year-old woman was killed when Russian troops struck the village of Sadove around 10:40 a.m. local time on Aug. 28, Governor Oleksandr Prokudin said.

The Russian military launched 61 attacks at the region and targeted the city of Kherson with 18 projectiles, including at residential areas and school buildings.

In Dnipropetrovsk Oblast, Russian forces targeted Nikopol in with a kamikaze drone, injuring four people, said Governor Serhii Lysak. In Nikopol district, Marhanets' was struck with artillery fire.

Lysak reported on Aug. 29 that both cities were shelled overnight, damaging a house and a gas pipe, but there were no casualties.

In Sumy Oblast, three civilians were injured on Aug. 28 when Russian forces shelled Seredyna-Buda, a settlement on the border with Russia. Mortars damaged a city library, administrative, and private residential building.

On Aug. 29, the Sumy Oblast Military Administration reported six attacks overnight but no casualties.

Regional military administrations in Zaporizhzhia and Kharkiv oblasts said there had been attacks on civilian infrastructure over the past day but no casualties.

Russia Won't Trade Land for Peace in Ukraine


Fifty-five years ago, a half million Soviet soldiers began to occupy Czechoslovakia. Over six thousand tanks rolled over the Prague Spring dream held by many of our citizens. It was a dream that communism could be reformed and that in countries controlled by Moscow, people could look forward to freedom of expression, and their opinions would not get them kicked out of school and work or even imprisoned them.

Until the night of the 20th and 21st of August, people were convinced that the Kremlin had no reason to send an army against our government.

Czechoslovakia wasn’t considering leaving the Soviet military and economic pacts, and the communist party and its leadership were at peak popularity in the country.

But Kremlin leaders were petrified that citizens in the Soviet Union could also demand freedom of speech, including those in Ukraine, which shared a border with Czechoslovakia. The risky decision to occupy our country, which over 200,000 soldiers could have theoretically defended at the time, came precisely from this fear of freedom and its contagion.

Half a century ago, Leonid Brezhnev succeeded in this step – although he failed to install a pre-planned puppet government, the Kremlin effectively carried out the coup. The communist leadership of that time decided not to defend the country from the foreign troops, and after the Soviets abducted them to Moscow, they submitted utterly.

In the Ukrainian case, today’s Russia still thinks the same way as 55 years ago – it fears freedom of speech, plurality of opinions, and free elections that Ukraine has been honoring for over 30 years. Vladimir Putin has understood that threats and blackmail will not stop the Ukrainian desire for freedom; the only option is to crush it by force. He wanted to repeat Brezhnev's success and carry out a coup, quickly occupy the country, and divide it. He failed because he underestimated the Ukrainians, as they have been bravely defending their country against foreign tanks for a year and a half.

Defence has a high price of civilian and military casualties, unfathomable material damages, and almost daily drone and cruise missile strikes on civilian infrastructure.

Ukraine cannot do without long-term military shipments and further Western support; therefore, the seemingly logical question is whether it would not be better for everyone to negotiate peace with the Kremlin in exchange for territorial concessions from the Ukrainian side.

However, such a brought peace would not work.

Also, it would be dangerous for the future of all of Europe.

Russia and other totalitarian countries cannot get used to changing borders by force. It would lead to more wars on the continent. And it would be naive to think that Russia would not continue its fight against Ukrainian independence. After all, from the forfeiting of the Sudetenland to Hitler in the 1938 Munich Agreement, the occupation of Czechoslovakia took place in less than half a year, and the start of World War II took place in not even a year.

Kremlin leaders don’t care about Crimea, eastern Ukraine, or even southern Ukraine. This war is not about territory but about values and Russia’s fear of freedom of speech and free elections. This fear is almost invariable among Russian leaders and cannot be soothed by any territory or concessions.

Our only defense against it is active support of Ukraine and support for its accession to NATO and the EU, as Russia doesn’t dare to bully stronger powers.

originally published in the Czech language in the newspaper Právo