Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky told the Vatican peace envoy on Tuesday that a ceasefire would not lead to peace and any deal to end the conflict should be on Ukrainian terms.
Pope Francis’s peace envoy to Ukraine, Italian Cardinal Matteo Zuppi, met with Zelensky during a two-day visit to Kyiv for talks with officials.
The cardinal’s visit came the day Ukraine and Russia mutually accused each other of blowing up a major dam in occupied southern Ukraine.
“The head of state emphasised that a ceasefire and freezing of the conflict will not lead to peace,” the Ukrainian presidency said in a statement.
Kyiv said the pair discussed “humanitarian interaction between Ukraine and the Holy See.”
Zelensky told the Catholic cleric that only “isolation and pressure” on Russia can “bring peace to Ukraine.”
He did, however, “note that the Holy See could make an effective contribution” in releasing Ukrainian prisoners of war and returning children “deported” to Russia.
The Vatican said Monday that the cleric will “listen in depth to the Ukrainian authorities about possible ways to achieve a just peace.”
Pope Francis has repeatedly called for peace in Ukraine.
In the first few months after Russia invaded Ukraine in February 2022, he faced criticism for not blaming Moscow explicitly.
Francis revealed in March that he had offered to go to Moscow to negotiate peace but had been rebuffed, as is tradition with no pope having ever been in Moscow.