Former Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett has claimed that Russian President Vladimir Putin promised not to kill Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy in a video published on Bennett’s YouTube channel.
Bennett flew to Moscow on Saturday, March 5, 2022, accompanied by his housing minister, Ze’ev Elkin, who acted as a translator and adviser, to mediate during the early days of the war. Both Bennett and Elkin are Orthodox Jews and only fly on Shabbat in emergency, life-threatening situations.
During his three-hour meeting with Putin, Bennett asked the Russian president if he intended to kill Zelenskyy and claimed that Putin replied, “I won’t kill Zelenskyy.” Bennett immediately called the Ukrainian president and informed him of Putin’s assurance. According to Bennett, Putin also agreed not to demand the disarming of Ukraine and that same weekend, Zelenskyy dropped his push for Ukraine to join NATO. Bennett added that his mediation effort was coordinated with the US.
The first anniversary of the invasion is approaching, and there have been reports that the new government led by Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu is conducting a policy review on its position toward the war. Netanyahu hinted at a potential policy shift in a recent interview with CNN, claiming that he was “looking into” providing Kyiv with “other kinds of aid.”
Russia warned Israel against arming Ukraine, which has strained ties between Jerusalem and Kyiv as the Ukrainians have consistently pressed Israel to provide more defense aid. However, Israel has sought to maintain a neutral stance on the war and keep channels open with both Russia and Ukraine.