They ask the Pope to "talk to Putin so that he lets the soldiers go."
While more than a thousand Ukrainian soldiers are still trapped in serious humanitarian conditions in the Azovstal steel plant in Mariupol, young wives of these soldiers came to plead the cause of their husbands to Pope Francis, at the general audience of May 11, 2022. The wives are hoping that Vatican diplomacy can unblock the critical situation.
Representing 500 soldiers’ wives, Kateryna, 27, wife of the commander of the Azov regiment, Denis Prokopenko, and Yulya, 29, wife of Arseniy Fedosiuk, are advocates for the military in Europe. This morning, they came to St. Peter’s Square, to the Bishop of Rome, to ask for help.
“We told the Pope that there are 700 wounded soldiers,” they told the press after the meeting. Some are amputees, others are suffering from serious infections, deprived of care.
“Many are dead and we have not been able to bury them according to Christian tradition,” said the women, who asked the Pope to come to Ukraine and “talk to Putin so that he lets the soldiers go.”
In response, the Pontiff replied that he was praying and that he would do “everything possible.”
The Ukrainians are asking that the trapped soldiers, who are still resisting the Russian army, be evacuated urgently through a safe humanitarian corridors to a third country.
Turkey and Switzerland have offered their mediation, but it was refused by Vladimir Putin. However, a humanitarian corridor is the only option for the soldiers of the Azov regiment, who, if they fell into the hands of the Russians, would be tortured and killed, fear Kateryna and Yulya.
The young women are hoping for a miracle from the Vatican for their compatriots who cruelly lack water, food, and who “die every day,” they deplore with discouragement perceptible in their voices.
They hope for “a strong diplomatic coalition that will push Putin to let them go.”
“We will do everything we can to save them,” say the two women, who are now continuing their journey in Germany. And to conclude with an appeal for Ukraine: “We do not want to be refugees. We want to live in our country, build and develop our country.”