Day 552: Ukraine responds to Pope Francis’s remarks on “great Russia” “of so much humanity”

Ukraine responds to pope’s remarks on “great Russia” “of so much humanity”. Putin agrees to visit China in October, sources tell Bloomberg. A Russian missile strike kills four in Poltava region.

Ukraine responds to Pope Francis’s remarks on “great Russia” “of so much humanity”

Pope Francis drew condemnation from Ukraine after he praised imperialist Russia of Peter the Great and Catherine II that he called “a country of great humanity” and urged the young Russians not to give up their legacy. Between August 23 and August 27, the Russians ages 16 to 30 participated in the All-Russian Meeting of Catholic Youth in St. Petersburg. During a video conference on August 25, Pope Francis delivered remarks to young Russians gathered in St. Catherine’s Basilica in St. Petersburg. According to the Catholic Archdiocese of the Mother of God in Moscow, the pontiff concluded his remarks, saying: “Never forget your heritage. You are heirs of the great Russia — the great Russia of saints, of kings, the great Russia of Peter the Great, Catherine II, the great, enlightened Russian Empire of so much culture, of so much humanity. You are the heirs of the great Mother Russia, go ahead. And thank you. Thank you for your way of being, for your way of being Russian.”  

The pope’s remarks were included on the website of Moscow’s Catholic archdiocese. A clip of his speech posted online shows the pope speaking these words. The Holy See press office released the text of the pope’s address that omitted his words about “the great Russia of Peter the Great, of Catherine II”. The official text quotes him as saying: “I wish you, young Russians, the vocation to be artisans of peace in the midst of so many conflicts, in the midst of so much polarization on all sides, which plague our world. I invite you to be sowers, to sow seeds of reconciliation, little seeds that in this winter of war will not sprout in the frozen ground for the time being, but will blossom in a future spring.”

The pope’s remarks that invoked Russian imperialist legacy did not go unnoticed in Ukraine as Putin often alludes to Russia’s imperial history to justify his invasion of the country.

Spokesperson for Ukraine’s foreign ministry Oleh Nikolenko reacted to pope’s remarks, saying: “It is with such imperialist propaganda, ‘spiritual scraps’ and the ‘need’ to save ‘the great Mother Russia’ that the Kremlin justifies the murders of thousands of Ukrainian men and women and the destruction of hundreds of Ukrainian towns and villages.”

“It is very unfortunate that Russian great-power ideas, which are actually the cause of Russia’s chronic aggressiveness, knowingly or unknowingly, sound from the lips of the Pope, whose mission, in our understanding, is precisely to open the eyes of Russian youth to a destructive course of the current Russian leadership,” Nikolenko said.

The Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church said in a statement that “together with all citizens of our country, [it] condemns the ideology of the ‘Russian world’ and the entire criminal way of ‘being Russian’. We hope the Holy Father will hear our voice.”

The statement issued by Archbishop Sviatoslav Shevchuk, the head of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church, also says: “It is with great pain and concern that we learned of the words attributed to His Holiness Pope Francis.”

“We hope that these words of the Holy Father were spoken spontaneously, without any attempt at historical evaluations, let alone support of Russia’s imperialist ambitions. Nonetheless, we share the great pain which they caused, not only among the episcopate, clergy, monastics, and faithful of our Church, but also among other denominations and religious organizations. At the same time, we are also aware of the deep disappointment that they have caused in society,” the statement reads.

Russian missile strike kills four in Poltava region

Overnight on August 28, a Russian missile strike hit the village of Hoholeve in Poltava region. Ukraine’s Minister of Interior, Ihor Klymenko said the strike caused an explosion at an oil mill. Five people were injured, all are employees of the plant. The severity of the injuries varies. 

The death toll from the Russian missile strike on Hoholeve rose to four, head of the Poltava regional military administration Dmytro Lunin said on Telegram Tuesday. “On the second day after the attack, rescue workers discovered the body of the fourth victim,” he said. 

Lunin extended his condolences to families and loved ones of the victims of Russia’s terror attack.

Putin agrees to visit China in October, sources tell Bloomberg

Russian President Vladimir Putin has agreed to make his first foreign trip since a warrant for his arrest on alleged war crimes was issued by the International Criminal Court.

The Kremlin is preparing Putin’s visit to China for the Belt and Road Forum in October, according to three people with knowledge of the matter contacted by Bloomberg, who asked not to be identified because the issue is sensitive. Putin has accepted the invitation from Chinese President Xi Jinping to attend the event, one of the people said.

Putin is only willing to visit countries where his security service can completely guarantee his safety, and China is one of those places, according to two of the people.

Putin hasn’t left Russia since the court in The Hague announced the warrant in March, though he has visited Russian-occupied areas of Ukraine. 

He skipped the BRICS summit in South Africa last week after the government there made clear it would have to comply with the order to arrest him as a signatory to the ICC. He also told Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi that he won’t attend next month’s Group of 20 summit, though India isn’t a signatory to the court.

Putin last visited China in February 2022 — less than three weeks before he ordered the invasion — when he attended the Winter Olympic Games in Beijing and held talks with Xi at which the two sides declared a “no limits” partnership.

On March 17, 2023, the International Criminal Court issued an arrest warrant for Putin for war crimes, accusing him of personal responsibility for the abductions of children from Ukraine.

The 123 countries that have ratified the Rome Statute are legally obligated to arrest the Russian leader if he sets foot in any of them.

Geopolitics Unveiled: Debating Approaches to Global Stability. Ukraine in Flames #500

The world is at a crucial point: despite new technologies, artificial intelligence, and successful space projects, there hasn’t been enough change in how countries interact with each other. Some nations still resort to aggressive wars to gain power, and some leaders are talking about using powerful weapons again. Ukraine is getting a lot of attention and is right in the middle of global events. Watch Ukraine in flames #500 to find out about what the world looks like today, and what might be the main trends for the future.


  • Valeriy Chaly, Chairman of the UCMC Board, Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of Ukraine
  • Oleksiy Haran, Professor of Political Science at the Kyiv-Mohyla Academy, Research Director at the Ilko Kucheriv Democratic Initiatives Foundation
  • Volodymyr Horbach, Political Analyst at the Institute of Euro-Atlantic Cooperation