By NICOLE WINFIELD and JOANNA KOZLOWSKA
ROME (AP) — Russia is complaining about Pope Francis’ latest condemnation of atrocities in Ukraine. The Kremlin’s ambassador to the Holy See says he lodged a formal protest with the Vatican to express Moscow’s “indignation.” In the comments, Francis blamed most of the cruelty on Chechens and other minorities in an apparent effort to spare ethnic Russian troops from criticism. Throughout the nine-month war, Francis has tried to spare direct condemnation of Moscow for fear of antagonizing the Russian Orthodox Church, which has strongly backed Putin’s invasion on religious grounds. Francis has previously blamed “mercenaries” for the atrocities being committed in Ukraine, drawing criticism from the Kyiv government.