Pope Francis may visit Donbas

Pope Francis may visit Donbas

Pope Francis may visit Ukraine’s eastern region of Donbas after peace is restored between the authorities in Kiev and local militias, Vatican’s Ambassador to Ukraine Archbishop Claudio Gugerotti said Sunday, Sputnik reports.

“When there is peace, ‘the time of brotherhood,’ the pope will certainly find an opportunity to come here and meet with people but the invitation of all sides is needed,” Gugerotti told journalists following his arrival in the self-proclaimed Luhansk People’s Republic (LPR) in Ukraine’s southeast.

He added that at the moment Pope Francis was unable to pay a personal visit to the region but he had such a desire.

The eastern Ukrainian regions of Donetsk and Lugansk have been in turmoil since April 2014, when authorities in Kiev launched a military operation against Donbas militia. In February 2015, the two sides agreed to a ceasefire after talks brokered by the leaders of Russia, France, Germany and Ukraine – the so-called Normandy Format – in the Belarusian capital, Minsk.

Both sides in the conflict, however, have consistently accused each other of violating the ceasefire terms.