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Russia

Ukrainian bishop warns of mass starvation, flight of millions

A Ukrainian bishop said a Russian-backed separatist rebellion has plunged his country into its worst humanitarian crisis since World War II and warned that "millions of refugees" could soon head for Europe to escape starvation.

"Huge numbers are now caught between hammer and anvil; the separatists aren't looking after them, and the Ukrainian government won't care for them because they haven't declared which side they're on," said Auxiliary Bishop Jan Sobilo of Kharkiv-Zaporizhia.

Francis meets a tardy Putin, as U.S. official calls for tougher talk

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Russian President Vladimir Putin met with Pope Francis at the Vatican on Wednesday, in a visit being scrutinized for meaning and significance as Russia continues taking unilateral military action in Ukraine.

The Vatican press office released an unusually lengthy description of the encounter, saying the discussions between the two leaders were “dedicated principally to the conflict in Ukraine and the situation in the Middle East.”

Russia's Putin to visit Pope Francis at the Vatican amid global tensions

Russian President Vladimir Putin will meet Pope Francis on June 10, with pressure on the pope to speak up about the Kremlin's role in the Ukraine conflict.

The visit, which was confirmed Thursday by the Holy See's chief spokesman, Jesuit Fr. Federico Lombardi, will be Putin's second meeting with Francis. The two leaders also met in the Vatican in November 2013.

But the ground between Moscow and Rome has shifted significantly in the interim, with Russia annexing the Crimea Peninsula last year and being accused of fomenting the ongoing war in eastern Ukraine.

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January 29-February 11, 2016

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