Zelensky arrives in Rome for conferences with Pope Francis, Italian leaders

Ukrainian President Volodymr Zelensky arrived in Rome on Saturday for talks with Italian officers and Pope Francis, who has mentioned the Vatican has launched a behind-the-scenes initiative to attempt to finish the struggle launched final 12 months by Russia.

“As we speak in Rome,″ Zelensky tweeted. ”I’m assembly with President of Italy Sergio Mattarella, Prime Minister of Italy @GiorgiaMeloni and the Pope @Pontifex. An vital go to for approaching victory of Ukraine! ”

When Zelensky arrived at a navy airfield at Rome’s Ciampino airport, Italian Overseas Minister Antonio Tajani was readily available to greet him. Tajani instructed reporters that Italy will proceed to assist Ukraine “360 levels” and press for a simply peace, one which safeguards Ukraine’s independence.

Italian Premier Giorgia Meloni staunchly backs navy and different help for Ukraine.

However whereas her far-right Brothers of Italy get together fiercely champions the precept of nationwide sovereignty, Meloni has needed to deal with leaders of two coalition companions who’ve overtly professed for years their admiration for Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Coalition ally Silvio Berlusconi, a former premier, has boasted of his friendship with Putin, whereas one other authorities ally, League chief Matteo Salvini, has questioned the worth of financial sanctions towards Russia.

The assembly with Mattarella, who’s head of state, on the presidential Quirinale Palace was the primary official appointment of what’s anticipated to be a go to to the Italian capital lasting a number of hours.

Zelensky is believed to be heading to Berlin subsequent.

Zelensky’s precise schedule hadn’t been publicly introduced due to safety issues, and the Vatican solely confirmed a papal assembly shortly earlier than the Ukrainian president’s airplane touched down.

Italian state radio reported that as a part of protecting measures, a no-fly zone was ordered for Rome skies and police sharpshooters had been strategically positioned on excessive buildings.

Meloni met with Zelensky in Kyiv, shortly earlier than the anniversary of Russia’s full-scale invasion on Feb. 24, 2022.

Francis, who is keen for peace, final met with the Ukrainian chief in 2020.

The pontiff makes frequent impassioned pleas on behalf of Ukraine’s “martyred” folks, in his phrases.

On the finish of April, flying again to Rome from a visit to Hungary, Francis instructed reporters on the airplane that the Vatican was concerned in a behind-the-scene peace mission however gave no particulars.

Neither Russia nor Ukraine has confirmed such an initiative.

He has mentioned he wish to go to Kyiv, the Ukrainian capital, if such a go to could possibly be coupled with one to Moscow, if a papal pilgrimage might additional the reason for peace.

Final month, Ukraine’s prime minister met with Francis on the Vatican and mentioned he requested the pontiff to assist Ukraine get again children illegally taken to Russia in the course of the invasion.

The German authorities, in the meantime, mentioned it was offering Ukraine with further navy help price greater than 2.7 billion euros ($3 billion), together with tanks, anti-aircraft methods and ammunition.

The announcement Saturday got here as preparations had been underway in Berlin for a potential first go to to Germany by Zelensky since Russia invaded his nation final 12 months.

Protection Minister Boris Pistorius mentioned Berlin desires to indicate with the most recent package deal of arms “that Germany is critical in its assist” for Ukraine.

“Germany will present all the assistance it may possibly, so long as it takes,” he mentioned.


— A “huge” Russian barrage in a single day broken an power facility in Ukraine’s western Khmelnytskyi area, the Ukrainian power ministry mentioned Saturday morning. It added that energy provide within the area wasn’t affected.

The mayor of the regional capital mentioned that 11 civilians had been wounded or injured in a single day on account of a Russian missile strike, He added that “tons of” of residential buildings within the metropolis had been additionally broken within the strike.

— Russian forces on Friday and in a single day resumed their shelling of Ukraine’s northeastern Kharkiv area, killing a civilian, native Gov. Oleh Syniehubov reported on Telegram on Saturday.

4 civilians had been killed over the identical interval in Ukraine’s front-line Donetsk province within the east, its Gov. Pavlo Kyrylenko mentioned Saturday.

— Russian forces in a single day launched at the least 21 Iranian-made Shahed drones at Ukrainian territory, 17 of which had been shot down, Ukraine’s air pressure mentioned Saturday.

One of many drones hit unspecified “infrastructure amenities” within the western Khmelnytskyi area, the replace mentioned in a probable reference to the power facility within the province that was broken within the nightly strike, based on Ukraine’s power ministry.

— Russian shelling in a single day wounded three civilians within the southern Ukrainian metropolis of Mykolaiv, the mayor mentioned Saturday.

One particular person was hospitalized, whereas the 2 others had been handled on the spot. A number of fires had been reported throughout the metropolis.

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