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ROME – Despite a dramatic recent appeal from Pope Francis to the leaders of Russia and Ukraine to break the cycle of violence, recent indications on both sides seem to suggest that this call has fallen on deaf ears.

Within 72 hours of the pope’s appeal, Russia renewed its military offensive in eastern Ukraine, and reports suggest Russian President Vladimir Putin could be preparing a nuclear test near Ukraine’s borders.

At the same time, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has declared that dialogue and negotiation with his Russian counterpart are impossible, suggesting the only resolution to the conflict is victory.

This comes on the heels of the pope’s appeal to Putin to stop “the cycle of violence” and to Zelenskyy to be open to negotiations.

During his noontime Sunday Angelus address, Pope Francis opted not to give his usual reflection on the day’s Gospel reading but focused instead on the war in Ukraine and the “terrible and inconceivable wound” it has inflicted on humanity.

In reference to Putin’s Sept. 30 announcement of the annexation of four occupied territories in Ukraine, the pope condemned “the serious situation that has arisen in recent days with further actions contrary to the principles of international law,” saying the decision “increases the risk of nuclear escalation to the point of fears of uncontrollable and catastrophic consequences worldwide.”

He begged Putin to “Stop this spiral of violence and death,” and likewise appealed to Zelenskyy “to be open” to any “serious peace proposals” given the “immense suffering” of the Ukrainian people.

Francis asked world leaders “to do everything in their power to put an end to the ongoing war, without allowing themselves to be drawn into dangerous escalations, and to promote and support initiatives for dialogue.”

However, despite this unusually direct and passionate appeal from the pope, Russia Tuesday continued its bombing campaign in eastern Ukraine, targeting villages on the frontline in the Kherson region, causing civilian casualties.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitri Peskov, according to Russian media outlet Tass, also declared that “achieving peace in Ukraine is impossible without satisfying Russia’s requests,” namely, that Ukraine cedes the annexed territories to Russia and changes its borders.

Also, despite Ukraine’s ongoing courtship of the pope and continual push for a papal visit, Zelenskyy Tuesday issued a decree ruling out any negotiations with Putin whatsoever.

In the first clause of Zelenskyy’s decree, prepared by the National Security and Defense Council of Ukraine on Sept. 30, “[Ukraine decided] to state the impossibility of conducting negotiations with the president of the Russian Federation Vladimir Putin.”

The decree formalizes remarks made by Zelenskyy Friday after Putin’s annexation of four Ukrainian territories, a move widely criticized by the international community, saying, “He [Putin] does not know what dignity and honesty are. Therefore, we are ready for a dialogue with Russia, but with another president of Russia.”

Putin, who will turn 70 this week, for more than two decades has dominated Russia’s political scene, and, according to constitutional reforms he implemented, he could run for office two more times, meaning he could stay in power until 2036.

According to The Times, Putin is also apparently prepared to make good on his threat to use nuclear weapons in the fight for Russia’s “territorial integrity.”

On Sept. 21, Putin warned that Russia “has various means of destruction … and when the territorial integrity of our country is threatened, to protect Russia and our people, we will certainly use all the means at our disposal.”

“It’s not a bluff,” he said during a televised address.

In a report in The Times on Monday, a NATO official claimed that member states have been warned that Russia has dispatched a train operated by its nuclear division and is expected to conduct a nuclear test on Ukraine’s borders.

NATO has apparently distributed an intelligence report to members and allies warning against the potential threat, which reportedly mentioned Poseidon, Russia’s nuclear-capable torpedo drone, which has been dubbed the “weapon of the apocalypse.”

However, the Kremlin Tuesday dismissed the rumors, saying it will not participate in what it described as “nuclear rhetoric” spread by the West.

In a statement responding to rumors about the NATO warning, Peskov said, “The Western media, Western politicians and heads of state are engaging in a lot of exercises in nuclear rhetoric right now…We do not want to take part in this.”

As regional tensions increase and the threat of nuclear war seems to be growing by the day, Pope Francis will undoubtably make further attempts to urge negotiations.

Follow Elise Ann Allen on Twitter: @eliseannallen