Ramzan Kadyrov, the President of Chechnya, criticized Pope Francis for calling the Chechens and the Buryats "the cruelest" part of the Russian troops in Ukraine.
In an interview with a Jesuit magazine, Pope Francis said:
"The cruelest are perhaps those who are of Russia but are not of the Russian tradition, such as the Chechens, the Buryats and so on,” he said. "I speak of a people who are martyred. If you have a martyred people, you have someone who martyrs them.”
According to Kadyrov, guided by religion, the Chechens "do not start a fight without an offer of peace." As for their attitude to prisoners of war, it is the Ukrainian military themselves who can speak about it, Kadyrov wrote in a post on his official Telegram channel.
"There is not a single alcoholic or drug addict" among the Chechen fighters, and each of them is "deeply religious," he added.
Each of the fighters knows that when at war, one should not forget about honour, dignity and respect even for the enemy, the head of Chechnya noted.
"It is a shame for a world-class religious figure not to know about Muslims' attitude towards the enemy," Kadyrov also wrote.
"Yes, we are zealous in protecting our Motherland, religion and people. We call on the enemy to surrender and our citizens to stand up for themselves. Is this cruelty?" Kadyrov continued.
Kadyrov also wondered how one could determine the qualities of the enemy on the battlefield.
"How can one visually determine the nationality of a Russian soldier taking into consideration the fact that there are more than 190 peoples in our country?” he added.
The Chechen President assumed that the Pontiff would not be able to answer those questions, as he "fell the victim of foreign media propaganda."
Alexei Tsydenov, the head of the Buryatia Republic, also criticised Pope Francis for his remarks about the Chechens and the Buryats.
According to Tsydenov, history knows "many examples of the destruction of cities, countries and even peoples by those who though of themselves as representatives of civilized nations."
To exemplify his point of view he recalled:
and Libya that had been "bombed without the participation of either the Buryats or the Chechens and other peoples of Great Russia."
Russian Ambassador to the Vatican Alexander Avdeev said that Pope Francis' remarks about the Russian Armed Forces were outrageous.
Maria Zakharova, an official representative for the Russian Foreign Ministry, called Pope Francis' statement a 'perversion'.
"This is not Russophobia — this is a perversion, I don't know of what level. In the 1990s and in the early 2000s, we were told exactly the opposite. We were told that it was the Russians, the Slavs that were torturing the peoples of the Caucasus. Today, we are being told that it is the peoples of the Caucasus that are torturing the Russians," Zakharova said.
Incidents of confrontation between Ukrainian and Polish units of the Armed Forces of Ukraine have become more frequent during the recent weeks