Israel’s Bennett speaks with Putin, Zelenskyy individually in effort to mediate Ukraine disaster


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TEL AVIV — Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett held talks with President Vladimir Putin Saturday within the Kremlin over Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, after which spoke with Ukrainian chief Volodymyr Zelensky, an try to mediate a battle that has brought on rising civilian casualties and refugees.

Earlier than Mr. Bennett’s go to, diplomacy by President Biden and European leaders did not cease Mr. Putin from invading Ukraine or rolling again his tanks. Within the face of huge Western sanctions, Mr. Putin has discovered himself more and more reduce off from the world, with few avenues for diplomacy and along with his nation’s economic system unplugged from a lot of worldwide commerce.

Mr. Bennett’s assembly with Mr. Putin happened “with the blessing of the U.S. administration,” stated Mr. Bennett’s workplace, which additionally famous that it coordinated with Germany and France. After seeing Mr. Putin, Mr. Bennett left Moscow for Berlin, the place he met with German Chancellor Olaf Scholz, the prime minister’s workplace stated. Mr. Bennett was joined by Housing Minister Zeev Elkin, who was born within the now Ukrainian metropolis of Kharkiv and assisted with the interpretation.


The practically three-hour dialog with Mr. Putin touched on the protection of Ukraine’s Jewish inhabitants and worldwide talks over Iran’s nuclear program, Mr. Bennett’s workplace stated. On Saturday, new calls for from Russia—a celebration to the nuclear talks—threatened to derail efforts to revive the 2015 Iran nuclear deal, a pact that Israel opposes.

Sabbath flight to Moscow

Mr. Bennett flew to Moscow as Russian troops continued to satisfy fierce resistance from Ukrainian forces, and an settlement to evacuate civilians from two besieged cities fell aside. Russia’s invasion of its smaller neighbor final week has brought on civilian casualties and sparked the biggest motion of individuals in Europe since World Battle II as Ukrainians flee the bloodshed.

Russian President Vladimir Putin, left, Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett, center, and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy.

Russian President Vladimir Putin, left, Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett, middle, and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy.

The assembly comes a couple of week after Mr. Bennett, in a name with Mr. Putin, provided to mediate between Russia and Ukraine. Mr. Putin stated throughout that decision that he was “prepared for negotiation,” a senior Israeli official stated.

All through the Russia-Ukraine battle, Israel has discovered itself caught between highly effective opposing forces. Israel’s most essential ally, the U.S., and pro-Western Ukraine, with a big Jewish inhabitants, have pushed Israel to facet strongly with the Ukrainians. On the similar time, Mr. Bennett’s authorities has fearful that taking sides would jeopardize its relationship with Russia, which permits Israel the liberty to bomb Iranian positions in Syria.

Russian President Vladimir Putin attends a meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett in Sochi, Russia, Oct. 22, 2021. 

Russian President Vladimir Putin attends a gathering with Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett in Sochi, Russia, Oct. 22, 2021. 
(Sputnik/Evgeny Biyatov/Kremlin through Reuters)

Mr. Bennett has confronted stress domestically to spice up assist to Ukraine. Israel has thus far refused a Ukrainian request for weapons and different navy gear, similar to helmets and protecting vests, Ukraine’s ambassador, Yevgen Korniychuk, stated earlier this week. However Israel has condemned Russia’s invasion and voted for a United Nations decision demanding an finish to the offensive.

Mr. Bennett, an observant Jew, flew to Moscow in the course of the Sabbath, underlining the pressing nature of his mission.

Israel has labored to keep up good relations with the Kremlin and has been eager to not anger Moscow in the course of the battle. Russia’s launch of a navy intervention in Syria in 2015 turned it into an essential participant within the Center East. Israel sees Russia’s presence there as a moderating affect amongst Islamist militant organizations similar to Hezbollah and Iran’s more and more aggressive stance.

Mr. Putin’s acknowledged goal of his invasion and decapitation of the Ukrainian authorities is denazification of the nation, regardless of Mr. Zelensky’s Jewish origins. Since Russia struck a tv tower earlier this week in Kyiv’s Babyn Yar space, the positioning of one of many worst massacres in the course of the Holocaust, worldwide Jewish condemnation of Russia’s invasion has grown.

Negotiations since December

Mr. Bennett’s efforts comply with a sequence of negotiations and letters exchanged between Washington, Moscow and European capitals since mid-December, when Russia demanded written ensures that NATO wouldn’t increase eastward and  that NATO withdraw troops and missiles from international locations that joined the alliance after 1997.

As Russia constructed up near 200,000 troops on the Ukraine border, Germany’s Mr. Scholz and French President Emmanuel Macron had been among the many main Europeans to go to Moscow in current weeks, in search of to steer Mr. Putin that his safety considerations about Ukraine and NATO’s enlargement may very well be handled via dialogue.

Mr. Scholz sought to drift some type of initiative primarily based round the concept that Ukraine was unlikely to turn out to be a NATO member for a few years. Mr. Macron steered some type of neutrality for Ukraine had come up in talks.

In the end, the Kremlin didn’t budge on its preliminary calls for and Mr. Putin went forward along with his invasion even whereas discussions had been persevering with with the Europeans and days earlier than Russian International Minister Sergei Lavrov was on account of meet his French and U.S. counterparts in Europe.

“Sure, there was duplicity. Sure, there was a deliberate option to launch the warfare after we had been nonetheless negotiating peace,” Mr. Macron stated in late February after a gathering of EU leaders on the Ukraine disaster.

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz, right, stands next to Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett on the terrace of the Federal Chancellery, in Berlin, Germany, Saturday, March 5, 2022. Bennett arrived in Berlin from Moscow after a meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin at the Kremlin. 

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz, proper, stands subsequent to Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett on the terrace of the Federal Chancellery, in Berlin, Germany, Saturday, March 5, 2022. Bennett arrived in Berlin from Moscow after a gathering with Russian President Vladimir Putin on the Kremlin. 
(Related Press)

Each Messrs. Macron and Scholz have spoken to Mr. Putin in current days, urging him to cease the violence.

For Mr. Bennett the stakes are additionally excessive. Along with Israel’s shut relationship with Russia and Ukraine and its efforts to not anger Washington by sitting on the fence over the disaster, Mr. Bennett’s go to comes at a important second within the Vienna talks on restoring the nuclear deal.


Israel has lengthy opposed the 2015 pact and is urgent its companions to make sure that if the deal is restored, stress is stored on Iran to completely cooperate with worldwide inspectors in Iran and to make sure Iran doesn’t cheat.

Russia has performed a number one function in negotiating the restoration of the deal between the U.S. and Iran. Nevertheless on Saturday, Mr. Lavrov threw a brand new hurdle in the way in which of a deal, demanding ensures from Washington that highly effective Western sanctions in opposition to Russia over its Ukraine assault gained’t disrupt commerce between Russia and Iran below a restored settlement.

Write to Thomas Grove at and Laurence Norman at

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