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Russia's Putin meets Pope in shadow of Ukraine crisis

Credit: Reuters Studio
Published on July 4, 2019 - Duration: 01:16s

Russia's Putin meets Pope in shadow of Ukraine crisis

Russian President Vladimir Putin met Pope Francis at The Vatican on Thursday, as speculation rises it could come ahead of the first trip by a pope to Russia.

Francis Maguire reports.

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Russia's Putin meets Pope in shadow of Ukraine crisis

He was an hour late -- an hour late to meet the pope -- but Vladimir Putin's convoy eventually arrived at The Vatican on Thursday (July 4).

Ukraine was expected to be a central topic of discussion in the official papal library, though details of the meeting were not immediately given.

The two last met in 2015 where the Pope urged the Russian President to make a quote, "sincere and great effort" to end fighting between Ukrainian forces and pro-Russian separatist rebels, a war which has lasted since 2014 in the country's east.

Leaders of Ukraine's Catholic church are also due at the Vatican on Friday (July 4), just a day after Putin's visit.

Ukraine's religious world was put on edge last year when the country's Orthodox Church splintered from the Russian Orthodox Church that had effectively controlled it for centuries.

Russia opposed the move and Putin, who has aligned himself closely with the Russian Orthodox Church, accused the Kiev government of meddling.

Thursday's meeting also comes three years after Francis met Russian Orthodox Patriarch Kirill in Cuba.

It was a landmark step in healing the 1000-year old rift between the Western and Eastern branches of Christianity.

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