Days after Pope Francis bewildered the Ukrainian government with talk of a secret peace mission, President Volodymyr Zelensky of Ukraine arrived in Rome on Saturday for meetings with Francis and Italian officials, including Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni.
Mr. Zelensky’s visit comes at a potentially pivotal moment in the war against Russia, as Ukrainian forces make advances near the key eastern city of Bakhmut ahead of a widely anticipated Ukrainian counteroffensive.
The Ukrainian leader called his trip to the Italian capital — which was placed under a no-fly zone and with extraordinary security measures in the streets — “an important visit” for his country’s “approaching victory.” The Vatican confirmed that Mr. Zelensky would meet with Francis on Saturday. Mr. Zelensky also is scheduled to meet with Italy’s president, Sergio Mattarella, and with Ms. Meloni, who despite softening support for Ukraine in Italian public opinion and in her own coalition government has…
This article was written by Jason Horowitz and originally published on www.nytimes.com