Pope Francis is ready to mediate in the conflict in Ukraine and has offered to host talks between Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky and Russian President Vladimir Putin, Leonid Sevastyanov, president of the International Union of Orthodox Christians, told the Russian state news agency TASS on Tuesday, referring to his conversation with the Catholic Church leader.
Earlier, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said Moscow welcomed French President Emmanuel Macron’s suggestion that Pope Francis and the U.S. leadership could be included in mediation efforts.
“Peskov’s reaction shows that Russia considers Pope Francis acceptable as a negotiating partner,” said Sevastyanov.
“Some kind of shift is needed, probably above all on the Russian side. The Pope has confirmed to me that he is ready to act as a mediator and has said the Vatican would be happy to host the talks, in the first instance between Zelensky and Putin,” he added.
Sevastyanov explained that such talks would take the form of roundtable discussions between Pope Francis, Zelensky, and Putin, moderated by the head of the Church.
“The presidents could discuss issues such as a ceasefire, some kind of separation of forces, and later on, more global issues,” he added.
The religious leader said that Pope Francis also proposed a conference after the talks, to which representatives of the United States and European countries would be invited, along with the Ukrainian and Russian sides. He said that this would be a kind of European security conference where the parties could agree on some new form of security.
“The Vatican has the infrastructure in Rome to host a conference of any format on its territory,” he said.