Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky invites Pope to Kyiv; Italy endorses EU membership bid

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March 22 (UPI) — Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky spoke Tuesday with Pope Francis, who offered to mediate with Russia to help end the invasion, as Italy’s prime minister voice support of Ukraine’s bid to join the European Union.

Zelensky addressed the Italian Parliament Tuesday and urged the country’s lawmakers to freeze assets in that country owned by members of Russia’s elite.

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“You know very well who orders troops to go to war and who propagates this. Almost all of them use Italy as a place to rest. Do not be a resort for murderers,” Zelensky said during the address.

Following Zelensky’s speech, Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi publicly endorsed Ukraine’s membership bid to join the European Union.

“Told His Holiness about the difficult humanitarian situation and the blocking of rescue corridors by Russian troops. The mediating role of the Holy See in ending human suffering would be welcomed. He thanked for the prayers for Ukraine and peace,” Zelensky tweeted, after his conversation with Pope Francis.

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He also invited the pope to visit the Ukrainian capital, Kyiv.

On Sunday, Pope Francis escalated his condemnation of Russia while calling the invasion of Ukraine a “senseless massacre” in an address to visitors at St. Peter’s Square.

“New visible gesture of support of (Ukraine) by Pope Francisco: just several min ago Holy Father called to Pres. Volod. Zelensky and had very promising talking. Pope said (Vatican) is praying & doing everything possible for end of war; (Zelensky) repeated that His Holiness is the most expected guest in (Ukraine),” tweeted Ukraine’s ambassador to the Vatican, Andrii Yurash, after Zelensky’s phone conversation.

This comes a day after U.S. President Joe Biden announced Russia had used hypersonic missiles against Ukraine after being slowed by stiff Ukrainian resistance.

The accusation came after Pentagon officials said it was unclear whether Moscow had used hypersonic weaponry — which travel at speeds of at least Mach 5 and are five times faster than the speed of sound and considerably faster than traditional missiles.

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