Pope Francis has said Ukrainians are being subjected to savagery, monsters and torture, calling them “noble” martyrs.
He also claimed that any consideration of the use of nuclear weapons was “crazy”.
The pope’s comments came hours after Russian President Vladimir Putin called on Russians to mobilize for the war in Ukraine and pose a covert nuclear threat to the West.
He was speaking at the end of a general audience in St Peter’s Square on Wednesday.
Francis, who did not name Russia, told the crowd of his conversation with Cardinal Konrad Krajewski, the head of his charity who is providing aid in Ukraine.
Vatican media said Krajewski, a Pole, had to flee and take shelter last week as he was helping with Catholic bishops, a Protestant bishop and a Ukrainian soldier. It said he also visited mass graves on the outskirts of Izyum in northeastern Ukraine.
“He (Krajewski) told me about the suffering of these people, the brutality, the monsters, and the tortured corpses they found. Let us unite with these people who are so noble and martyred,” he said.
Ukrainian officials said they found hundreds of bodies, some tied behind their backs, buried in territory retaken from Russian troops in what President Vladimir Zelensky called evidence of war crimes.
Russia has denied that its troops committed war crimes since the army invaded Ukraine in February. On Monday, the Kremlin denied allegations of such abuses as “lies” in the Kharkiv region where Izium is located.
Four of the 111 civilian corpses exhumed as of Wednesday showed signs of torture, Sheryi Bolvinov, chief of the Kharkov Regional Investigative Police, told reporters. Reuters in the cemetery.