VATICAN CITY (Reuters) – Pope Francis on Wednesday called for “concrete steps” to end the war in Ukraine and avoid the risk of a nuclear disaster for the Zaporozhye regime .
The International Atomic Energy Agency, the United Nations nuclear watchdog, said on Tuesday it would visit a Russian-occupied Ukrainian nuclear power plant within days if talks are successful.
Russia and Ukraine have repeatedly accused each other of firing at the facility, the largest of its kind in Europe, which pro-Moscow forces took over shortly after the Feb. 24 invasion. The United Nations has called for the demilitarization of the region.
“I want concrete measures to end the war and avoid the risk of a nuclear catastrophe in Zaporozhye,” Francis said during the weekly general audience.
Speaking on the day Ukraine marked its independence from Soviet rule in 1991 and six months after the Russian army’s invasion, Francis denounced the war as “crazy” and mentioned the death Saturday , Darya Dugina, daughter of a prominent Russian ultranationalist, in a car bombing near Moscow.
“Innocents pay for war, innocents,” he said.
Moscow blames killings on Ukrainian agents, an accusation Kyiv denies.
Francis called arms dealers who profited from the war “criminals of human murder.”
(Reporting by Philip Pullella; Editing by Toby Chopra and John Stonestreet)