UKRAINE: Zelensky asks Pope to play “mediating role” to end Russian aggression

By Democrat reporters

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky told Pope Francis in a call on Tuesday that a “mediating role of the Holy See … would be appreciated” as the Russian invasion enters its 27th day.

The President told His Holiness about the difficult humanitarian situation and the blocking of rescue corridors by Russian troops. The mediating role of the Holy See in ending human suffering would be appreciated,” Zelensky said in a tweet.

President Zelensky said he also thanked the Pope for his prayers for “Ukraine and peace.”

Over the weekend, the Pope tweeted in support of Ukraine, saying that there is “no justification” for the “senseless massacre” caused by Russia.

“Let us be close to this martyred people, let us embrace them with affection with concrete commitment and prayer,” the Pope said.

The Holy See has said that it is willing to act “as mediator in negotiations aiming to end the war in Ukraine.”

Cardinal Pietro Parolin, the Vatican’s Secretary of State, told Italian media earlier this month that he met with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, but added that Russia gave “no signals so far” to accept the Holy See’s role as mediator.

Meanwhile, President Volodymyr Zelensky said in a televised address Wednesday that about 100,000 people are enduring “inhumane conditions” in the southeastern port city of Mariupol as they contend with a relentless attack by Russian forces .

Zelensky said Mariupol’s citizens were completely blockaded by Russia’s military. “No food, no water, no medicine,” he said. “Under constant shelling, under constant bombing.”

Despite the bombardment, more than 7,000 Mariupol residents had been rescued from the besieged city in the past 24 hours, Zelensky said.

Right now,Mariupol is encircled by Russian forces, which have bombarded the strategically important city with airstrikes for days.

Russia’s military needs to take Mariupol in order to create a land corridor between Crimea and the Russian-backed regions of Luhansk and Donetsk in southeastern Ukraine.

Hundreds of people have died during the Russian military assault on the city. An art school, a mosque, a theatre and other civilian targets have been bombed in recent days.

The U.K. Ministry of Defence said in an intelligence update on Wednesday that Russia’s military is “attempting to envelop Ukrainian forces in the east of the country as they advance from the direction of Kharkiv in the north and Mariupol in the south.”

Russian forces were “still attempting to circumvent Mykolaiv as they look to drive west towards Odessa,” the Defence Ministry noted.

“The battlefield across northern Ukraine remains largely static with Russian forces likely conducting a period of reorganisation before resuming large-scale offensive operations,” per the intelligence.

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