The Daily Beast – Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky paid a visit to the pontiff Saturday afternoon for the first time since Russia’s invasion—and gifted him with a bulletproof vest that was used by a Ukrainian soldier and later painted with and image of the Madonna.
Last month, Pope Francis—who has voiced his support for Ukraine but has faced backlash for failing to name Russia as the aggressor of the war—offered to serve as an intermediary between the two countries.
He also told reporters two weeks ago that he had a secret mission under wraps for a peace deal, which took Moscow and Kyiv by surprise.
The Vatican said in a written statement that the two men discussed Ukraine’s “humanitarian and political situation provoked by the war going on” at the 40-minute meeting.
The Ukraine leader may request the Vatican’s help in organizing prisoner exchanges and bringing back Ukrainian children forcibly held in Russia, the Wall Street Journal reported.
Earlier Saturday, Zelensky met with Italian President Sergio Mattarella and Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni. Despite Meloni’s right-wing government, she has remained steadfast in her pro-NATO and pro-Ukraine positions.
Today in Rome. I'm meeting with President of Italy Sergio Mattarella, Prime Minister of Italy @GiorgiaMeloni and the Pope @Pontifex. An important visit for approaching victory of Ukraine! 🇮🇹🤝🇺🇦🤝🇻🇦— Володимир Зеленський (@ZelenskyyUa) May 13, 2023
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