Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy is in Rome on Saturday to meet with Italian officials and Pope Francis.
“Today in Rome,” Zelenskyy tweeted in the morning, calling the trip “an important visit for approaching victory of Ukraine.”
He was greeted at a military airfield at Rome’s Ciampino airport by Italian Foreign Minister Antonio Tajani. “We reaffirm our support for the Ukrainian people in defending freedom and democracy,” Tajani said.
The Italian president, Sergio Mattarella, later welcomed Zelenskyy to the presidential Quirinale Palace. “We are fully at your side,″ Mattarella told his guest at the start of their meeting.
While Zelenskyy’s exact schedule is unknown — for security reasons — he is due to meet with Pope Francis after his closed-door talks with Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni.
Last month, Pope Francis told reporters that the Vatican was engaged in a behind-the-scene peace mission to put an end to the conflict in Ukraine, without providing further details. “There is a mission in course now but it is not yet public. When it is public, I will reveal it,” he said. The pope and Zelenskyy last met in 2020, before Russia’s all-out invasion of Ukraine in February 2022.
Earlier Saturday, German Defense Minister Boris Pistorius confirmed that Berlin has approved a new €2.7 billion package of weapons for Ukraine. “We all wish for a speedy end to this terrible and illegal war,” Pistorius said. “Unfortunately, this is not yet foreseeable.”
Zelenskyy is reportedly expected to head to Berlin after Italy, upon the invitation of German Chancellor Olaf Scholz.