The Pope fears a nuclear disaster at Europe’s biggest nuclear power plant in Ukraine.
Francis today called for ‘concrete steps’ to avert a disaster at the Zaporizhzhia power plant and bring an end to Vladimir Putin’s war.
His comments come amid simmering concerns over a Chernobyl-style catastrophe at the facility, which is currently occupied by Russian forces and has been shelled.
Both Ukraine and Russia have blamed each other for the ongoing issues.
IAEA, the United Nations’ nuclear watchdog, said on Tuesday that it will visit the plant within days if talks to gain access succeed.
Francis told his weekly audience at the Vatican: ‘I hope that concrete steps will be taken to bring an end to the war and to avert the risk of a nuclear disaster at Zaporizhzhia.’
Opposing forces have repeatedly accused each other of firing on the site, which pro-Moscow soldiers took over soon after the invasion began in February.
The UN has called for the area to be demilitarised.
This is far from the Pontiff’s first intervention over Ukraine, having previously revealed that he offered to meet Putin to help put an end to the invasion.
He also raised the prospect of nuclear Armageddon in reference to the war, during an address in March.
Speaking on the day Ukraine marks its independence from Soviet rule and six months after Russian forces invaded, Francis condemned wars as ‘madness’
He also referred to the death of Darya Dugina, daughter of a prominent Russian ultra-nationalist, in a car bombing near Moscow on Saturday.
‘Innocents pay for war,’ the Pope said.
Russia has already blamed Saturday’s killing on Ukrainian agents, a charge Kyiv quickly denied.
Francis branded arms merchants who profit from war ‘delinquents who kill humanity’.
Last month, the Pope explained that he wants to visit the Ukrainian capital but would prefer to go to Moscow first to promote peace.
In mid September, he is due to attend a congress of religious leaders in Kazakhstan’s capital Nur-Sultan, where he hopes to meet with Russian Orthodox Patriarch Kirill, who supports the war.
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