For God's sake: Pope Francis pleads Russia to stop attacks on Ukraine
- Pope Francis reaffirmed his demand for an end to the conflict in Ukraine, stressing concern for children
- 'Never war! Think first about the children, about those who are deprived of the hope for a dignified life,' read his tweet
- Over 2.5 million people have fled Ukraine since the war between Russia and Ukraine began last month, as per UN
Pope Francis reaffirmed his demand for an end to the conflict in Ukraine, stressing concern for children. "Never war! Think first about the children, about those who are deprived of the hope for a dignified life: dead or wounded children, orphans, children who play with the remnants of war!" said the sovereign of Vatican City in a tweet.
The UN human rights office reported 1,335 civilian casualties in Ukraine thus far, including 474 killed and 861 injured, but the exact toll was likely to be higher. Furthermore, the United Nations refugee agency estimates that at least 2.5 million people have fled the nation.
Mariupol has been subjected to some of Ukraine's harshest punishment since Russia's invasion. According to the mayor's administration, more than 1,500 people have died in Mariupol during the siege, and the shelling has even disrupted efforts to bury the deceased in mass graves.
With the reported detention of a mayor from a city west of Mariupol, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy accused Russia of launching "a new stage of terror."
According to the Ukrainian military, Russian soldiers have overrun Mariupol's eastern suburbs, tightening their siege on the important port. Taking Mariupol and other Azov Sea ports might allow Russia to construct a land corridor to Crimea, which it took from Ukraine in 2014.
Zelenskyy decried NATO's failure to impose a no-fly zone over Ukraine and stated that Ukraine had sought ways to obtain air defence equipment, though he did not elaborate. US President Joe Biden announced an additional $200 million in aid to Ukraine, with an additional $13 billion included in a bill that has cleared the House and is expected to pass the Senate in the coming days. NATO has warned that implementing a no-fly zone may spark a larger conflict with Russia.
The Ukrainian president also accused Russia of arresting the mayor of Melitopol, which is located 192 kilometres west of Mariupol.
French and German leaders met with Russian President Vladimir Putin on Saturday in an unsuccessful attempt to strike a cease-fire agreement. Putin, according to the Kremlin, outlined terms for halting the war. To end the conflict, Moscow has requested that Ukraine abandon its NATO membership aspiration and embrace a neutral position; recognise Russian authority over Crimea, which it annexed from Ukraine in 2014; recognise the independence of separatist regions in the country's east; and agree to demilitarise.
On Saturday, Zelenskyy told Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett that he would be willing to meet Putin in Jerusalem to discuss an end to the fighting, but that there must first be a cease-fire. Bennett just met with Putin in Moscow, despite Zelenskyy's previous offers of talks.
According to the World Health Organization, Russian soldiers have attacked at least two dozen hospitals and medical facilities.