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Pope Francis has called on Russian President Vladimir Putin to stop the war in Ukraine, adding that he is haunted by “rivers of blood and tears.”

In a statement, Pope Francis said, “my appeal goes above all to the president of the Russian Federation, begging him to stop this spiral of violence and death, even out of love for his own people. I strongly deplore the grave situation that has been created in the last few days, with more actions that are contrary to the principles of international law. On the other side, pained by the enormous suffering of the Ukrainian population following the aggression it suffered, I address an equally hopeful appeal to the president of Ukraine to be open to a serious peace proposal.”

Pope Francis also condemned the annexation of four regions in Ukraine, saying that it risked serious escalation of a nuclear war.

The pope’s call to end the war is the first time he has directed his message to Russian President Vladimir Putin. Earlier this year, Pope Francis spoke with Russian holy figure Patriarch Kirill.


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