Volodymyr Zelensky meets Pope Francis, as Italy pledges full assist in opposition to Russia

Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky met Pope Francis within the Vatican, after Italy pledged its full assist for Kyiv in its defence in opposition to the Russian invasion.

Neither aspect instantly gave particulars of the 40-minute discuss, although the pontiff has beforehand mentioned the Catholic state was working behind-the-scenes to push Moscow to withdraw from the battle Vladimir Putin began final February.

“It is a great honour,” Mr Zelensky mentioned, placing his hand to his coronary heart and bowing his head as he greeted the 86-year-old Pope, who stood with a cane.

The president gave his host a bulletproof vest that had been utilized by a Ukrainian soldier and later painted with a picture of the Madonna.

The pope has a standing invitation from Mr Zelensky to go to Kyiv however has mentioned beforehand that he additionally needs to go to Moscow as a part of the identical peace mission.

Mr Zelensky earlier met Italian prime minister Giorgia Meloni, who condemned Russia’s “brutal and unjust aggression,” pledged Italy’s assist for Ukraine for “as long as is necessary,” and urged Russia to right away withdraw.

“You can’t achieve peace through a surrender,” she mentioned at a joint press convention. “It would be a very grave precedent for all nations of the world”.

She emphasised Italy’s assist for Ukraine’s membership of the European Union and the “intensification” of a partnership with Nato.

Pope Francis and Zelensky shake fingers following a non-public viewers within the Vatican


Ms Meloni backs navy and different support for Ukraine, however whereas her far-right Brothers of Italy social gathering champions the precept of nationwide sovereignty, she has needed to deal with leaders of two coalition companions who’ve brazenly professed their admiration for Vladimir Putin.

Mr Zelensky will head to Germany on Sunday, after Berlin introduced €2.7bn (£2.4bn) of navy support to Ukraine, its greatest such package deal but, and pledged additional assist for Kyiv for so long as crucial.

Smoke rises on the location of a helicopter crash within the city of Klintsy in Bryansk


The Ukrainian president and his staff have been vigorously selling Kyiv’s 10-point peace plan and urging world leaders to carry a Global Peace Summit primarily based on the proposals.

It requires restoring Ukraine’s territorial integrity, the withdrawal of Russian troops and cessation of hostilities, and the restoration of Ukraine’s state borders. Mr Zelensky has repeatedly mentioned the plan just isn’t open to negotiations.

After Moscow acknowledged on Friday that its forces had fallen again north of Ukraine’s battlefield metropolis of Bakhmut, Britain’s Ministry of Defence (MoD) mentioned Russian troops had seemingly withdrawn “in bad order”.

The MoD mentioned Russia’s 72nd Separate Motor Rifle Brigade, established final Autumn, was dogged with allegations of poor morale and restricted fight effectiveness and its deployment to Bakhmut mirrored a extreme scarcity of credible fight items on Moscow’s half.

Zelensky and Meloni at Chigi Palace in Rome


Elsewhere, Moscow primarily based information outlet Kommersant reported that two Russian fighter jets and two navy helicopters had been shot down on Saturday near the Ukrainian border, in what can be a spectacular coup for Kyiv if confirmed.

Kommersant, a revered, unbiased business-focused each day, mentioned on its web site that the Su-34 fighter-bomber, Su-35 fighter and two Mi-8 helicopters had made up a raiding social gathering, and had been “shot down almost simultaneously” in an ambush within the Bryansk area, adjoining northeast Ukraine.

Russia’s state-owned Tass information company reported that an SU-34 and a helicopter crashed within the area.

Meanwhile, South Africa’s presidential safety adviser mentioned his nation was “actively non-aligned” in Russia’s battle in opposition to Ukraine, after US allegations that it had provided weapons to Moscow led to a diplomatic disaster this week.

Reuters contributed to this report

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