Italy pledges full support to Ukraine as Zelenskiy meets pope

Italy’s leaders on Saturday pledged full military and financial support to Ukraine and reiterated support for its candidacy for EU membership, as Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy visited Rome for the first time since the start of the war.

Zelenskiy met Italian President Sergio Mattarella and then Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni before heading to the Vatican for talks with Pope Francis, who said in late April that the Holy See is involved in a peacekeeping mission to end the war between Ukraine and Russia.

Both Mattarella and Meloni reiterated Italy’s full support for Ukraine in terms of military, financial, humanitarian and reconstruction aid in the short and long term.

At a press conference after his meeting with Zelenskiy, Meloni condemned Russia’s “brutal and unjust aggression”, pledged Italy’s support for Ukraine “for as long as it takes” and urged Russia to withdraw immediately.

“You cannot achieve peace through surrender,” she said, echoing an earlier comment by Mattarella. “It would be a very serious precedent for all the nations of the world.”

She emphasized Italy’s support for Ukraine’s accession to the European Union and the “intensification” of a partnership with NATO.

As he made his way to the presidential palace, Zelenskiy’s motorcade passed small groups of people holding Ukrainian flags. One person held up a sign condemning Russia.

Zelenskiy flew to Rome on an Italian government plane that was escorted by fighter jets over Italian airspace. He is due to be received in Berlin on Sunday.

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