Pope Francis calls for ceasefire in 'cruel' Ukraine war
Pope Francis has urged peace talks and a ceasefire in Ukraine, two days before what he called the "sad anniversary" of Russia's invasion.
"I appeal to those in authority over nations to make concrete efforts to end the conflict, to reach a ceasefire and to start peace negotiations," the pontiff said.
"Whatever is built on rubble can never be a true victory," he added.
During his weekly general audience delivered to hundreds of people at the Vatican, Francis described the conflict as "absurd and cruel" before he asked "Has everything possible been done to stop the war?"
"The toll of dead, wounded, refugees, those isolated, destructions, economic and social damage speaks for itself," he said, praying for all the "tormented Ukrainian people who continue to suffer".
Francis, 86, has repeatedly appealed for an end to the war that Russia launched in Ukraine on February 24 last year.