Ukrainian President Seeks Pope’s Support for Peace Plan

Ukrainian President Seeks Pope’s Support for Peace Plan

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy met with Pope Francis at the Vatican on Saturday to seek support for his peace plan from the pontiff. In the past, Francis has offered to try to help end the war launched by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine a year ago. During a private 40-minute meeting, the two men spoke about Ukraine’s “humanitarian and political situation provoked by the war going on.” Zelenskyy also asked the pope to condemn Russian “crimes in Ukraine” and to come aboard Ukraine’s peace plan. The president’s 10-point plan includes the establishment of a special tribunal to prosecute Russian war crimes, the creation of a European-Atlantic security architecture with guarantees for Ukraine, the restoration of Ukraine’s damaged power infrastructure, and ensuring safety around Europe’s largest nuclear power plant at Zaporizhzhia.

Earlier in the day, Zelenskyy received pledges of both open-ended military and financial support from Italian officials as well as stronger backing for Ukraine’s aim to join the European Union. Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni stated that “the future of Ukraine is a future of peace and freedom” and pledged to back the country “360 degrees for all the time necessary and beyond.” Similarly, Italian President Sergio Mattarella assured Zelenskyy that Italy would continue to support Ukraine militarily and financially, as well as with reconstruction and humanitarian aid, in both the short and long term.

Germany also pledged additional military aid worth more than 2.7 billion euros ($3 billion), including tanks, anti-aircraft systems, and ammunition to Ukraine. Defense Minister Boris Pistorius stated that the German government wanted to show with the latest package of arms “that Germany is serious in its support” for Ukraine.

Since the war began, Italy has contributed about 1 billion euros ($1.1 billion) in military and financial aid, as well as humanitarian assistance. Zelenskyy is believed to be heading to Berlin next for his first visit to Germany since the war began. The exact schedule was not publicly announced because of security concerns.

At the end of April, Francis told reporters on the plane that the Vatican was involved in a behind-the-scenes peace mission but gave no details. Neither Russia nor Ukraine has confirmed such an initiative. The pope has stated that he would like to go to Kyiv, the Ukrainian capital, if such a visit could be coupled with one to Moscow, in hopes a papal pilgrimage could further the cause of peace.


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