Russian President Vladimir Putin attended a private meeting with Pope Francis at the Vatican on Wednesday, with the pope calling for a sincere effort at bringing peace to Ukraine.
Vatican spokesperson Rev. Federico Lombardi said the meeting's theme revolved around the conflict in Ukraine, the Middle East and the worrying situation of the Christian minority in war-torn Middle Eastern conflict zones.
Putin earlier on Wednesday met Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi in Milan and attended the meeting with Pope Francis one hour later, this was their second meeting since Francis became pope in 2013.
Lombardi said Francis emphasised the need "to commit oneself in a sincere and great effort to bring" peace to Ukraine in diplomatic ways and to abide by the Minsk accords.
Francis also called on for humanitarian aid.
The US government has encouraged the Vatican by diplomatic means to condemn Moscow’s actions in Ukraine.
"We think they could say something more about concern of territorial integrity, those types of issues,” Kenneth Hackett, the US ambassador to the Vatican told reporters.
"It does seem that Russia is supporting the insurgents. And it does seem that there are Russian troops inside Ukraine. This is a very serious situation," he added.
Russia has blamed Ukraine for not entering diplomatic dialogue with the separatist east and of imposing economic sanctions on the rebel controlled areas.
Kiev, the US, NATO and some European leaders have accused Russia of supplying the rebels with manpower, combat training and weapons. Russia denies the claims.
Hackett said the Russian president had mentioned the trouble of Christian minorities which was clearly an area of concern for the Vatican.
"I'd like to see if he's got a proposal," Beckett said of Putin.
A cease-fire agreement in Ukraine did not hold. Heavy fighting broke out a few days ago between pro-Russian separatists and Ukrainian forces.
Following his meeting with the pope, Putin was scheduled to meet with his old colleague and friend, ex-premier of Italy, Silvio Berlusconi.