Ukraine’s President Zelensky has 40 minute meeting at Vatican with Pope Francis after meetings with Italian political leaders

Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky is visiting Rome, where he is meeting political leaders and has just had an audience with Pope Francis. His motorcade arrived at the Vatican to be greeted by by Swiss Guards, as Pope Francis greeted him with a handshake before they held a 40 minute meeting together

“I thank you for this visit,” said the Pope as he welcomed President Zelensky.

“It is a great honour,” the president replied.

Pope Francis has often said that the Vatican stands ready to act as a mediator in the conflict between Russia and Ukraine.

Earlier this month, he stated that the Vatican was working on a peace plan to end the war, saying that the mission was “not yet public. When it is public, I will talk about it.”

But the relationship between Ukraine and the Vatican has sometimes been uneasy.

Last August, Ukraine’s ambassador to the Vatican took the unusual step of criticising the Pope after the pontiff referred to Darya Dugina, the daughter of a Russian ultra-nationalist figure, who was killed by a car bomb, as an “innocent” victim of war.

Today was the first time President Zelensky and Pope Francis have met since Russia invaded Ukraine. The pair did meet in 2020.