Moscow asked who would call Ukraine’s president to have him reverse a ban on talks with Russia
French President Emmanuel Macron pleaded with Pope Francis to have him reach out to senior secular and religious officials in Russia and the US to foster peace in Ukraine, a French magazine reported.
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“I encouraged Pope Francis to call [President] Vladimir Putin and [head of the Russian Orthodox Church] Patriarch Kirill of Moscow, but also [US President] Joe Biden,” the French leader told Le Point in an interview published on Tuesday. The meeting took place in the Vatican on Monday.
“We need the United States to sit at the table to promote the peace process in Ukraine,” Macron said. “Joe Biden has a real relationship of trust with the Pope. The Pope can have an influence on him for American re-engagement in Haiti and Ukraine.” Biden is famously Catholic, the second sitting president of the country adhering to that branch of Christianity, after John F. Kennedy.
The Kremlin welcomed the idea, with spokesman Dmitry Peskov stating that Russia assumed Macron’s goal was “aimed at finding a possible resolution” to the crisis in Ukraine.
“That said, the remarks said nothing about anyone calling [Ukrainian] President [Vladimir] Zelensky and settling the issue of the legal system, which currently forbids any talks with Russia,” he added.
Russia is willing to discuss peace with any party, be it the US, France, or the Pope, but can hardly talk to Ukraine after it banned itself from diplomacy, Peskov said.
On Sunday, Macron delivered a speech in Rome at a summit organized by the Italian Catholic Community of Sant’Egidio, a lay association. The French leader called for peace in Ukraine on Kiev’s terms.
Zelensky and other top Ukrainian officials have repeatedly said they will not negotiate with Moscow and want nothing short of defeating Russia and reclaiming all lands that Kiev considers to be under its sovereignty.
“Ukraine never objected to talks with Russia … about contributions and reparations. The longer the Kremlin regime delays those talks, the worse the terms and sums will be,” Aleksey Danilov, the secretary of the Ukrainian national security service, stated in September.
Last month, the council banned any negotiations with Russia for as long as Putin remains its president, with Zelensky endorsing the decision in an order.