Moscow asked who would call the Ukrainian president to cancel the ban on talks with Russia
French President Emmanuel Macron has pleaded with Pope Francis to reach out to senior secular and religious leaders in Russia and the United States to foster peace in Ukraine, a French magazine reported.
“I encouraged Pope Francis to call [President] Vladimir Putin and [head of the Russian Orthodox Church] Patriarch Cyril of Moscow, but also [US President] Joe Biden,” the French leader told Le Point in an interview published on Tuesday. The meeting took place at the Vatican on Monday.
“We need the United States to come to 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 influence him for American re-engagement in Haiti and Ukraine.Biden is notoriously Catholic, the country’s second sitting president to adhere to that branch of Christianity, after John F. Kennedy.
The Kremlin welcomed the idea, with spokesman Dmitry Peskov saying Russia assumed Macron’s goal was “aiming to find a possible solution” to the crisis in Ukraine.
“That said, the remarks said nothing about anyone calling [Ukrainian] President [Vladimir] Zelensky and settle the question of the judicial system, which currently prohibits any discussion with Russia”, he added.
Russia is ready to discuss peace with any party, be it the United States, France or the pope, but can hardly talk to Ukraine after it refrains from diplomacy, Peskov said.
On Sunday, Macron delivered a speech in Rome at a summit organized by the Italian Catholic Community of Sant’Egidio, an association of lay people. The French leader called for peace in Ukraine on kyiv terms.
Zelensky and other senior Ukrainian officials have repeatedly said they will not negotiate with Moscow and want nothing less than to defeat Russia and reclaim all land that kyiv considers to be under its sovereignty.
“Ukraine has never opposed talks with Russia…on contributions and reparations. The longer the Kremlin regime delays these talks, the worse the terms and sums will be,” Aleksey Danilov, the secretary of Ukraine’s national security service, said in September.
Last month, the council banned all negotiations with Russia as long as Putin remains president, with Zelensky approving the decision in an order.