TEL AVIV, Israel (AP) — The former Israeli prime minister, who temporarily acted as mediator at the start of Russia’s war with Ukraine, said he had obtained a promise from the Russian president not to kill the Ukrainian prime minister.
Former Prime Minister Naftali Bennett unlikely middleman In the first weeks of the war, he became one of the few Western leaders to meet President Vladimir Putin during the war on a snap trip to Moscow last March.
While Bennett’s mediation efforts appear to have done little to end the bloodshed that continues to this day, his remarks in an interview posted online late Saturday were aimed at ending the dispute quickly. shed light on the ongoing clandestine diplomacy and urgent efforts in .early conclusions.
In a five-hour interview that touched on many other topics, Bennett asked Putin if he planned to kill Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky.
“I asked, ‘What happened to this? Are you going to kill Zelensky? ” He said, “I will not kill Zelensky.” Then I said to him, “You must understand that you are giving me a promise not to kill Zelensky.”
Mr Bennett said he later called Mr Zelensky to tell him of Mr Putin’s promise.
“Listen, I just came out of a meeting, he’s not going to kill you.” He asks, “Are you sure?” I said, 100% he won’t kill you.”
Bennett said during the mediation Mr Putin broke a pledge to seek disarmament in Ukraine and Mr Zelensky promised not to join NATO.
Bennett was a largely untested leader who had been Prime Minister for only six months when the war broke out. unexpectedly threw himself into international diplomacy After he positioned Israel at an uncomfortable middle ground between Russia and Ukraine. Trying to show support for Ukraine.
An observant Jew and little-known internationally, he flew to Moscow to meet with President Putin on the Jewish Sabbath, breaking his religious promises and calling the world to stop wars. at the forefront of such efforts.
However, his peacebuilding efforts did not seem to work, and his reign in power was short-lived. The Bennett government, the ideologically diverse union that forced current Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu into brief political exile, collapsed over the summer in infighting. Bennett has left politics and is now a private citizen.