Hybrid Neutrality as the Deadlock: The Pope’s Approach to the Russia-Ukraine War

Regina Elsner is an appointed professor of Eastern Churches and Ecumenical Theology at the Catholic-Theological Faculty at the University of Münster.

After one and a half years, the diplomatic efforts in Russia’s war against Ukraine have caused major global disillusionments—no means, strategy, or peace plan has yet brought a truly viable end to the war closer or opened options for a just peace in the region. This includes the Vatican’s multiple diplomatic initiatives. In its dual role as an actor in the community of states and as the center of one of the world’s largest religious communities, the Vatican has ways of maintaining a conversation with warring parties where many other actors can no longer gain access. This position has raised the hope that the Vatican, particularly the Pope, can play a mediating role in Russia’s war.

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Pope Francis’s Humanitarian Diplomacy for Ukraine: Between Peacemaking and Geopolitics

Pavlo Smytsnyuk is a Mary Seeger O’Boyle Associate Research Scholar at Princeton University.

Cardinal Zuppi’s Mission

On 18 July 2023, U.S. President Joseph R. Biden met with the Pope’s special envoy, Cardinal Matteo Maria Zuppi, once again shining a spotlight on the Holy See’s peace efforts in the war in Ukraine. The meeting follows Zuppi’s encounters with President Volodymyr Zelensky in Kyiv and with two senior officials in Moscow earlier this summer. Commentators now predict that Zuppi will make a similar voyage to Beijing.

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