Ahead of the first anniversary of the Russian invasion, Pope Francis has called for an immediate ceasefire in Ukraine, as Russian President Vladimir Putin announced on Friday that Russia was pulling out of the Open Skies Treaty.
The Pope made the call during his general audience on Ash Wednesday He said; “The number of dead, wounded, refugees and displaced people, the (amount of) destruction and economic and social damage speak for themselves,” “May the Lord forgive all these crimes and all this violence: He is the God of peace.”
Pope Francis made this statement a day after Russian President Vladimir Putin announced that Russia was pulling out of the Open Skies Treaty, a pact that allows unarmed surveillance flights over the territories of signatory countries. The move was seen as a blow to European security, and the United States and European countries condemned the decision. Putin warned that Russia was about to start testing nuclear weapons, but only if the US conducts them first.
In the State of the Union address on Tuesday, the Kremlin leader put the blame of the war on Ukraine and the West. He claims he did “everything possible” to try to resolve the conflict in a “peaceful way” before invading the country last February.
The situation in Ukraine has also drawn the attention of other world leaders. In addition to the Pope’s call for peace, there have been other diplomatic efforts to end the conflict.
The Pope’s call for an immediate ceasefire and diplomatic efforts to find a peaceful solution to the conflict are important steps towards avoiding a full-blown war in the region.