Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy with Italian President Sergio Mattarella. EFE-EPA/QUIRINAL PALACE PRESS OFFICE

Italy pledges continued military, financial aid to Ukraine in war against Russia

Rome, May 13 (EFE).- Italy Saturday reassured Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy of its military and financial assistance in his war against Russian aggression.

Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy. EFE-EPA/ANGELO CARCONI

Zelenskyy received a warm welcome upon his arrival in Italy, ahead of his much-anticipated meetings with Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni and Pope Francis at the Vatican.

Upon his arrival at the courtyard of the Quirinal Palace, Zelenskyy was greeted with military honors by Italian President Sergio Matarella.

The national anthems of both countries played in the background while the Ukrainian flag flew high above.

“We are fully at your side. Welcome, president,” Matterella told Zelenskyy at the start of the talks between the sides.

According to a presidential source, Mattarella reassured Zelenskyy that Italy would provide Ukraine with full military, financial, humanitarian, and reconstruction support.

He emphasized that the stakes were high, as it was not just a matter of Ukraine’s independence and territorial integrity but also of the freedom of people and the international order.

The source said that Zelenskyy insisted that “peace must restore justice and international law” and not force a surrender.

“We stand for peace and our ultimate goal is to achieve peace. While we welcome all international contributions, it is important to acknowledge that the war is taking place on our territory, and true peace must ensure justice throughout our entire territory.”

Following the meeting with the Italian head of state, Zelenskyy proceeded to the Chigi Palace to meet with Meloni.

Meanwhile, according to Vatican sources, his meeting with Francis will take place after 3:00 p.m. local time (1:00 p.m. GMT).

The meeting between Zelenskyy and Francis occurs amid the Vatican’s peace mission, which the pontiff announced after his trip to Hungary.

While details about the mission are not revealed, a Vatican source told the Russian media that the meeting between Zelenskyy and Francis “is not directly related” to it.

The same source said Zelenskyy had requested the meeting with Francis just a few days ago.

It will be the first meeting between the two leaders since the war began, even as they are acquainted with each other as Francis had previously received Zelenskyy on February 8, 2020.

The Italian capital has taken extra security measures for Zelenskyy’s visit.

The authorities have deployed some 1,000 security personnel, established a no-fly zone, and positioned several sniper teams along his planned route.

Numerous Ukrainian refugees had also gathered along the route to welcome their president.