Live updates: Russia’s war in Ukraine

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Pope Francis on Saturday told journalists that the withholding of weapons to Ukraine is turning the Ukrainian people into “martyrs.”

The Pope made the comments during a news conference on a flight back to Rome’s Fiumicino airport following a two-day trip to Marseille. 

The Pope told journalists: “Now we are seeing that some countries are pulling back, they’re not giving weapons. A process is starting where the martyrs will be the Ukrainian people, and this is an ugly thing.”

Pope Francis also spoke of the “paradox” of countries supplying Ukraine with weapons before taking them away, which was keeping Ukrainians a “martyred people.”

“Those who traffic in arms never have to pay the consequences of their choices, but leave them to be paid by martyred peoples, such as the Ukrainian people,” he said. 

Some context: The pontiff was possibly referring to the recent decision by Poland to stop providing weapons to Ukraine, amid a dispute between the two countries over a temporary ban on Ukrainian grain imports. 

When asked for clarification, Vatican spokesperson Matteo Bruni said the Pope was not taking a stand on whether countries should continue to send weapons to Ukraine or stop sending them, according to Reuters. 

Rather, his comments were a “reflection on the consequences of the arms industry: the Pope, with a paradox, was saying that those who traffic in weapons never pay the consequences of their choices but leave them to be paid by people, like the Ukrainians, who have been martyred,” Bruni said.

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