Zelensky met with Pope Francis in Rome


Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy held private talks with Pope Francis at the Vatican on Saturday, later saying he had sought support for Ukraine’s peace plan from the pontiff, who has previously offered to help end the war. full scale war Russia launched a year ago.

With his hand on his heart, Zelensky said it was a “great honor” to meet the pope. Francis arrived to meet the Ukrainian president with a cane on his knees before leading him to the papal studio near the Vatican auditorium.

Inside Twitter After the 40-minute hearing, Zelensky thanked Francis for his “personal attention to the suffering of millions of Ukrainians.” He said that he spoke with the pontiff “about tens of thousands of deported (Ukrainian) children. We have to do everything we can to bring them home.”

Pope Francis met with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyi
Pope Francis meets with President of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelensky in a studio in Paul VI Hall in Vatican City on May 13, 2023.

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Zelensky also said asked him to accuse the pope “Russian crimes in Ukraine” because “there can be no equality between the victim and the aggressor”.

“I also spoke about our peace formula as the only effective algorithm for achieving a just peace,” Zelensky said. Later, in an interview with Italian state television, the head of Ukraine said that the Pope “knows my position.” The war is in Ukraine, so this should be Ukraine’s peace plan.

Last month, Ukrainian Prime Minister Denis Shmyhal asked the Pope to help return Russian children to Ukraine. But the Vatican statement on Saturday did not mention the request.

Instead, the Vatican said the two spoke about “the humanitarian and political situation caused by the ongoing war in Ukraine.”

Referring to the Russian invasion, which began on February 24, 2022, the Vatican said: “The Pope assures that he is constantly praying, as evidenced by his many public appeals and his constant appeal to the Lord for peace since February of last year.”

The meeting comes as the Russian Defense Ministry announced the launch of the Storm Shadow long-range cruise missiles. Delivered to Ukraine Britain this week damaged an unidentified civilian business in Ukraine’s far-eastern Luhansk province. According to Luhansk authorities, another rocket hit the regional capital, injuring an elderly woman.

Two Russian Mi-8 helicopters and a Su-34 fighter-bomber crashed on Saturday in the Bryansk region on the border with Ukraine, state news agency TASS and the Telegram channel close to the Russian Ministry of Health reported. protection; “Kommersant” newspaper refers to the information about the downing of two fighter planes. The cause of the crash was not immediately clear, but there is growing concern in Bryansk about cross-border attacks from Ukraine.

Some Ukrainian units continue to advance near Bakhmut, the commander of Ukraine’s ground forces said on Saturday, after Ukrainian commanders said their troops had retaken territory from the scene of the longest and longest fighting. bloody war.

“Our fighters are advancing in certain sections of the front, and the enemy is losing equipment and manpower,” Alexander Syrsky said on Telegram.

Zelensky’s 10-point plan calls for the creation of a special tribunal to prosecute Russian war crimes. It also allows for the creation of a Euro-Atlantic security architecture with safeguards for Ukraine, the restoration of Ukraine’s damaged electricity infrastructure and security around the Zaporozhye nuclear power plant, Europe’s largest.

Earlier in the day, Zelensky promised Italian officials unlimited military and financial support, as well as a boost to Ukraine’s bid to join the European Union.

“The message is clear and simple,” Prime Minister Georgia Meloni said after a meeting with Zelensky that lasted more than an hour. “The future of Ukraine is the future of peace and freedom. This is the future of Europe, the future of peace and freedom, there is no other way to solve it.”

The prime minister, who strongly supports military aid to Ukraine, said Italy would support the country “360 degrees as long as it is needed and beyond.”

Meanwhile, Italian President Sergio Mattarella told Zelensky: “We are completely on your side,” Mattarella told Zelensky as he welcomed him. Later, sources in the presidential palace assured Mattarella’s guest that Italy would continue to provide Ukraine with military and financial assistance, as well as reconstruction and humanitarian aid.

Since the start of the war, Italy has provided around 1 billion euros ($1.1 billion) in military and financial aid, as well as humanitarian aid.

Zelenskyy will then travel to Berlin, which is expected to be his first visit to Germany since the start of the war. For security reasons, the exact schedule has not been released.

In late April, Francis told reporters he was involved in a behind-the-scenes Vatican peace mission, but gave no details. Neither Russia nor Ukraine has confirmed such an initiative.

He said he would like to visit the Ukrainian capital, Kyiv, in the hope that the papal pilgrimage would help to further promote peace if such a visit were to be combined with another visit to Moscow.

There is speculation as to whether the Vatican could act as a mediator. But in an interview with Italian television on Saturday, Zelensky said that mediation in general is not possible.

“You cannot negotiate with (Russian President Vladimir) Putin,” he said.

And the German government has announced that it will provide additional military aid to Ukraine in the amount of more than 2.7 billion euros ($3 billion), including tanks, anti-aircraft systems – aircraft and ammunition.

Defense Minister Boris Pistorius said Berlin wanted to show “Germany supports Ukraine” with the latest arms package.

“Germany will give all possible help,” he said.

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