The Vatican has confirmed that Pope Francis will meet Russian President Vladimir Putin in private audience later this month.
Although details are still being worked out, the Holy See press office said the meeting is scheduled to take place in the afternoon of November 25.
President Putin has recently been defending Christianity both domestically and internationally, most notably in his vocal defense of persecuted Christians in the Middle East. Like the Vatican, he also sought to prevent escalation of the conflict in Syria after a chemical weapons attack in August.
Dmitry Medvedev was the most recent Russian president to meet a pope. He had a half hour meeting with Benedict XVI at the Vatican in February 2011.
During Benedict XVI’s pontificate, Russia established full diplomatic relations with the Holy See in 2009.