Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky on Sunday rejected Pope Francis’ call for talks with Russia, calling the pontiff’s call a remote “virtual mediation.”

Zelensky did not directly refer to the pope or his comments yesterday but said the pontiff’s ideas had nothing to do with efforts by religious figures in Ukraine to help the country.

“They support us with prayers, conversations and actions. This is truly a church for the people,” Zelensky said. “Not 2,500 kilometers away, somewhere, a virtual mediation between someone who wants to live and someone who wants to destroy you,” Zelensky said.

In an interview he gave to the state television network RTS and aired yesterday, Pope Francis, when asked about the situation in Ukraine, said he should not be “ashamed to negotiate before the situation worsens.” “I believe that the most powerful are those who see the situation, think about the people and have the courage to raise the white flag and negotiate,” he pointed out.

Earlier yesterday, Kiev, through the mouth of the Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba, responded sharply to the head of the Roman Catholic Church and pledged that Ukraine will “never” surrender to Russia. “Our flag is yellow and blue. For this flag we live, die and triumph. We will never raise any more flags,” Kuleba said.