Putin returns to the Vatican: It will be the third time he will meet Pope Francis
This will be the third time these two leaders have greeted one another. This is because Vladimir Putin will return to the Vatican to meet Pope Francis on July 4.
In his meetings with the pope, the Russian leader has always arrived late to his appointment. The first time he met Pope Francis was on Nov. 25, 2013. They met for 35 minutes.
The second time was in June 2015 where they had a meeting for 50 minutes. On this occasion the President of the Russian Federation arrived more than an hour late. However, the pope still received him with a smile.
As discussed in their previous meeting, it is very likely they will focus on issues such as the forgotten war in Ukraine as well as the situation in the Middle East. This is because Russia has taken on a major role there, especially in Syria.
Putin's visit is especially relevant this time. As the day after their meeting, Pope Francis will greet the Major Archbishop of the Ukrainian Greek-Catholic Church, Sviatoslav Shevchuk, and the permanent synod.
The pope has summoned them to Rome precisely to talk about the war in Ukraine. Since 2014 it has claimed the lives of more than 10,000 people. The Ukrainian forces are fighting against pro-Russian separatists supported by Moscow.
Pope Francis is practically the only world leader who has remembered the suffering caused by this conflict. A few months ago he sent around 18 million dollars in humanitarian aid to the population caught up in crossfire between military forces.
Although it will be their third meeting, it will be the first time the pope and Putin meet after Pope Francis' meeting the patriarch of Moscow, Kiril in Cuba. It marked a new beginning after almost a thousand years of enmity between the Catholic Church and the Russian Orthodox Church, which is the biggest Church in Russia.
Vladimir Putin will visit the Vatican for the sixth time. He met John Paul II twice, once with Benedict XVI, and this will be the third time he will meet Pope Francis.