Pope Francis has expressed concern over "rising tensions" in Ukraine that threaten peace, and called for political talks that emphasise "human brotherhood instead of partisan interests."

Francis called for a day of prayer for peace on Wednesday so that political talks may focus on “human brotherhood instead of partisan interests.”
Francis called for a day of prayer for peace on Wednesday so that political talks may focus on “human brotherhood instead of partisan interests.” (Reuters)

Pope Francis has said that he was following "with concern" rising tensions in Ukraine, and called for a day of prayer for peace next week.

"I am following with concern the rising tensions that threaten to inflict a new blow to peace in Ukraine, and call into question the security of the European continent, with even wider repercussions," he said on Sunday.

Following his Angelus prayer on St Peter's Square, he called for prayers "that every political action and initiative serve human brotherhood, rather than partisan interests".

"Whoever pursues his own goals to the detriment of others disregards his own vocation as man, because we have all been created brothers," the pontiff said.

"For this reason and with concern, given the current tensions, I propose that next Wednesday, January 26, be a day of prayer for peace."

Francis made the appeal for dialogue to defuse the crisis during his weekly address and blessing to pilgrims and tourists in St. Peter's Square.

The Vatican gave no immediate details on how the pope would mark the day.

READ MORE: US embassy staff families evacuate Ukraine

Pro-Russian leadership

Tensions between Moscow and Washington are on a knife's edge over Ukraine, which Europe and the United States said has been surrounded by some 100,000 Russian troops in preparation for an invasion. 

Moscow denies it plans to invade.

Top US and Russian diplomats failed on Friday to make a major breakthrough in talks to resolve the crisis over Ukraine, although they agreed to keep talking.

On Sunday, Britain accused Russia of seeking to install a pro-Russian leader in Ukraine.

READ MORE: UK: Russia plotting to install pro-Moscow leader in Ukraine

Source: AFP