Zelenskyy Visits the Vatican to Meet Pope Francis

ROME — Volodymyr Zelenskyy, the president of Ukraine, met privately with Pope Francis on Saturday at the Vatican. He subsequently claimed that he sought the pontiff’s backing for his peace proposal after the latter had volunteered to attempt to put an end to the full-scale conflict that Russia started a year ago.

Zelenskyy claimed it was a “great honor” to meet with the pope while placing his palm over his heart. Before leading the Ukrainian leader inside a papal studio next to the Vatican’s audience hall, Francis, who was walking with a cane due to a knee injury, came to welcome him.

Zelenskyy thanked Francis in a tweet after the 40-minute audience for “his personal attention to the tragedy of millions of Ukrainians.” He claimed to have discussed “the tens of thousands of deported (Ukrainian) children” with the pope. We must do all in our power to get them back home.

Denys Shmyhal, the prime minister of Ukraine, pleaded with Pope Francis to assist in bringing back children who had been taken by Russian authorities. But the request was not included in the Vatican’s statement on Saturday.

The Vatican said that the two leaders instead discussed the “humanitarian and political crisis in Ukraine, which has been sparked by the ongoing war.

In response to the Russian invasion that started on February 24, 2022, the Vatican stated, “The pope assured his constant prayer, paid witness to by his many public appeals and by his continued invocation of the Lord for peace, since February of last year.”

Zelenskyy Visits the Vatican to Meet Pope Francis

The Holy See’s statement further stated that “both agreed on the need to continue humanitarian efforts.”

The discussion took place as the Russian military ministry said that unnamed civilian enterprises in the far-eastern region of Luhansk, Ukraine, were hit by long-range cruise missiles called Storm Shadow that the UK had this week provided to Ukraine. Authorities in Luhansk independently reported that a second missile attack had struck the regional center and injured an elderly woman.

According to the state news agency Tass and a Telegram channel affiliated with the Russian military ministry, two Russian Mi-8 helicopters and a Su-34 fighter-bomber crashed on Saturday in the Bryansk area bordering Ukraine. Although the causes of the accidents were not immediately known, cross-border assaults from Ukraine are causing considerable anxiety in Bryansk.

A day after Ukrainian commanders claimed their soldiers had reclaimed ground at the scene of the longest and most brutal combat of the conflict, the commander of the country’s land forces stated on Saturday that some Ukrainian battalions were still moving forward close to Bakhmut. Oleksandr Syrskyi said on Telegram, “Our soldiers are moving forward in some areas of the front, and the enemy is losing supplies and personnel.”

Additionally, Zelenskyy said that he had requested the pope to denounce Russian “crimes in Ukraine” since “there can be no equality between the victim and the aggressor.”

As the sole formula for attaining a just peace, “I also talked about our Peace Formula,” Zelenskyy stated. Later, the Ukrainian president said that the pope “knows my position” in an appearance on Italian state television. Since the conflict is in Ukraine, bringing peace must be part of Ukraine’s goal.

In accordance with Zelenskyy’s 10-point proposal, a special court would be established to try Russian war criminals. Additionally, it would repair Ukraine’s damaged electrical infrastructure and assure safety surrounding Zaporizhzhia, the largest nuclear power plant in Europe, while also establishing a European-Atlantic security architecture with assurances for Ukraine.

Zelenskyy had earlier in the day gotten assurances of ongoing military and financial cooperation as well as enhanced support for Ukraine’s cherished goal of joining the European Union from Italian authorities.

After a lengthy discussion with Zelenskyy, Premier Giorgia Meloni declared, “The message is clear and simple.” “Peace and independence are Ukraine’s future prospects. There are no other viable options for Europe’s future, which must be one of freedom and peace.

In addition, Meloni reaffirmed her commitment to support Ukraine’s EU aspirations, stating that the country was making the necessary reforms despite the conflict.

The prime minister, who fervently backs providing Ukraine with military assistance, declared that Italy will help the nation “360 degrees for as long as necessary and beyond.”

Zelenskyy called on Sergio Mattarella, the president of Italy, to open his official meetings. Zelenskyy was welcomed by Mattarella, who said, “We are fully at your side.” Mattarella afterwards told his guest that Italy will continue to help Ukraine financially and militarily, as well as with rehabilitation and humanitarian relief, according to sources in the presidential palace.

Italy has given around 1 billion euros ($1.1 billion) in military, financial, and humanitarian support since the war started.

Zelenskyy is rumored to be traveling to Berlin next, where he will make his first trip to the country since the start of the war. Security reasons prevented a public announcement of the precise schedule.

In the hopes that a papal pilgrimage might further the cause of peace, he has stated that he would want to visit Kyiv, the capital of Ukraine, if such a visit could be combined with one to Moscow.

While this was happening, the German government said it was giving Ukraine further military aid worth more than 2.7 billion euros ($3 billion), including tanks, anti-aircraft systems, and ammunition.

Defense Minister Boris Pistorius stated that Berlin intended to demonstrate “that Germany is serious in its support” for Ukraine with the most recent shipment of armaments.

Germany would offer all assistance possible for whatever long is necessary, he declared.

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