St Petersburg International Economic Forum

Pope urges Putin to find peace with Ukraine

The Pope pleads for a cooler Russia
The Pope pleads for a cooler Russia

Pope Francis has urged President Vladimir Putin to make a "sincere and great effort" to achieve peace with Ukraine during a visit by the Russian leader to the Vatican.

Putin spent around 50 minutes Wednesday with the spiritual leader of the Catholic church with the meeting devoted mainly to the conflict in Ukraine, according to a statement from the Vatican.

There has been an escalation of violence lately between pro-Russian rebels and the Ukraine military threatening a fragile official ceasefire, called the Minsk agreements.

The Vatican said that Pope Francis urged Putin to "engage in a sincere and great effort to achieve peace," the Holy See said in a statement. "It was agreed on the importance to restore a climate of dialogue and that all parties commit themselves to implement the Minsk agreements."

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Pope Francis meets Russian President Vladimir Putin in 2013
Vatican Pool | Getty Images

The Pope was also concerned about the "serious humanitarian situation" in the region, the statement said.

Several news media, including Reuters, reported that Putin, who is notorious for his lateness, arrived an hour late for his meeting in the papal enclave in Rome. He was received with full honors and regalia at the Vatican, although it was reported that Pope Francis' greeting to Putin was curt and lacked the warmth and cordiality other world leaders have received.

Since the annexation of Crimea, and the escalation of tensions in parts of Ukraine, Putin has become increasingly isolated on a global stage with international sanctions upping the economic and political pressure.

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Just hours before Putin's meeting with the Pontiff, the U.S. Ambassador to the Holy See, Kenneth Hackett, urged the Pope to take a tougher line with Putin. Russian presidential spokesman, Dmitry Peskov, rebuked the ambassador for the remarks, telling Russian media that it was an attack on sovereignty and an attempt to lecture the Pope.

-- By CNBC's Holly Ellyatt, follow her on Twitter @HollyEllyatt. Follow us on Twitter: @CNBCWorld