Cardinal Pietro Parolin in Milan Cardinal Pietro Parolin in Milan 

Cardinal Parolin: NATO arms in Russia will lead to ‘uncontrollable escalation'

Answering to journalists' questions, the Vatican Secretary of State expresses the Holy See’s concerns over a further escalation of the war between Russia and Ukraine, and confirms it is continuing its humanitarian and diplomatic efforts, especially to free Ukrainian children unlawfully held in Russia.

By Lisa Zengarini and Salvatore Cernuzio

The Vatican Secretary of State Cardinal Pietro Parolin,  has cautioned against authorizing the use of NATO-supplied weapons by Ukraine in Russian territory, warning that it would unleash an "uncontrollable escalation" of the conflict. “It is a truly disturbing prospect”, he said Thursday at the margins of the presentation of a book on Vatican banking in Milan, Italy.

NATO members divided 

The use of the weapons provided by Ukraine’s Western allies to strike targets inside Russia has become a hot-button issue among NATO members especially since the new offensive launched by Russia in the Kharkiv region, with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy urging them to abandon the position some of them have held throughout Russia's 27-month-old full-scale invasion.  

In recent days NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg has called on members of the alliance to lift the restrictions to allow Kyiv to strike "legitimate military targets" inside Russia.

Early in May British Foreign Secretary David Cameron had already stated that Ukraine could use the weapons provided by London to strike targets in Russian territory, and that it was up to Kyiv whether to do so.  

A similar position was expressed on Tuesday this week by French President Emmanuel Macron during his official five-day State visit to Germany. "We think we should allow them to neutralise military sites from which missiles are fired, military sites from which Ukraine is attacked," he told a joint news conference with German Chancellor Olaf Scholz. The Chancelor echoed that stance which is supported by several East-European members of NATO.

Washington is also considering giving Ukraine a partial go-ahead to use American weaponry to strike inside Russia for the limited purpose of defending Kharkiv and according to some U.S. officials President Biden has already diven the autorization.  Other countries, however, including Italy, are against removingthe  restriction.

For his part, Russian President Vladimir Putin on Tuesday warned that NATO is playing with fire by proposing to let Ukraine use Western weapons to strike targets inside Russia.

Risk of uncontrollable escalation

Commenting on these developments with the press in Milan, Cardinal Parolin reiterated the Holy See’s concerns over the risk of a further escalation of the conflict. "I think this possibility should concern all those who have the fate of our world at heart," he said.    "This could entail an escalation that no one will be able to control any longer.”

The Holy See's ongoing humanitarian and diplomatic efforts for Ukraine

Regarding the Holy See’s peace efforts in the context of the Ukrainian conflict, the Vatican Secretary of State said that it is continuing "at  a humanitarian level", especially on the issue of the return to their families of the many Ukrainian children abducted by Russia. The process started by Cardinal Matteo Maria Zuppi, the president of the Italian with his mission to Kyiv and Moscow last year os progressing slowly, but “is bearing fruit”, he said, noting that at present there is not much more space for maneuver.“

European elections: citizens must vote

During his conversation with the journalists, Cardinal Parolin was also asked, among other things, about the upcoming European elections in June. In this regard, he clarified, that the Church's position "is never party-oriented" and that "we cannot express ourselves in favour or against one or the other".

However, he reiterated the importance for European citizens to participate and cast their vote “because – he said - this means implementing and exercising democracy". At the same time we must "take into account the values of the candidates who are close to, similar to, Catholic sensitivity. I would say that these are the principles we should adhere to as far as we are concerned," he added.

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31 May 2024, 14:16