VATICAN CITY, Jan 23 — Pope Francis said today 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 following his Sunday 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 26 January be a day of prayer for peace.”

Tensions between Moscow and Washington are on a knife’s edge over Ukraine, which Europe and the United States has said has been surrounded by some 100,000 Russian troops in preparation for an invasion. Moscow denies it plans to invade. — AFP