Zelensky asks Vatican for assistance in release of captives in Donbass

President of Ukraine Vladimir Zelensky. Photo: pbs.twimg.com

In a telephone conversation, Vladimir Zelensky discussed a number of humanitarian issues with Pope Francis and invited the pontiff to pay a visit to Ukraine.

On June 5, 2020, President of Ukraine Vladimir Zelensky held a telephone talk with the head of the Roman Catholic Church, Pope Francis, asking him to help "release all Ukrainians illegally detained in the occupied part of the Donbass, in the occupied Crimea and in Russia", reports the official website of the President.

During the conversation, the parties discussed the current crisis situation caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. In particular, Zelensky spoke of the measures taken by Ukraine in the framework of the fight against the pandemic, noting "a good example of certain Ukrainian churches in support of the quarantine imposed by the government".

The head of state "informed His Holiness about the security situation in the Donbass and asked the Holy Throne for help in releasing all Ukrainians illegally detained in the occupied part of the Donbass, in the occupied Crimea and in Russia."

“We are looking for a solution to move forward in a peaceful settlement. Ukraine will not violate the red lines in relation to its own security, sovereignty, and territorial integrity,” Zelensky said.

The President’s press service reported that “His Holiness thanked the President of Ukraine for his attempts at a peaceful settlement and also noted that he is working on the release of the Ukrainian soldier Vitaliy Markiv” (a National Guard soldier sentenced by the Italian court to 24 years in prison for the involvement in the murder of photojournalist Andrea Roccelli, who in May 2014 died as a result of mortar shelling near Slaviansk – Ed.).

The pontiff also asked "to convey greetings to the Ukrainian people, to which the Pope feels close in heart", and stressed that he "appreciates Vladimir Zelensky’s efforts, which the President is making to end the war and achieve peace in the Donbass".

After discussing cooperation in the humanitarian field, in particular, interaction in healthcare and environmental protection, Zelensky confirmed his invitation to Pope Francis to pay a visit to Ukraine.

As reported, earlier Vladimir Zelensky expressed confidence that the Holy Throne could play an important role in bringing peace to the Ukrainian land and, during a meeting with the Roman pontiff in the Vatican on February 8, 2020, invited Pope Francis to visit Ukraine.

We recall that in 2019, the UOC appealed to the Ukrainian authorities with an initiative to resume the process of releasing Ukrainian captives in the "all-for-all" format.

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