Ukraine: Russian President Putin promises not to kill Zelenskyy: Former Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett
Former Prime Minister Naftali Bennett emerged as an unlikely mediator in the first weeks of the war, becoming one of the few Western leaders to meet President Vladimir Putin during the war during a quick trip to Moscow last March.
While Bennett’s efforts at reconciliation appear to have done little to end the bloodshed that continues to this day, his remarks, in an interview posted online at the end of Saturday, shed light on behind-the-scenes diplomacy and urgent efforts underway to try to bring the conflict to a swift end. concluded in its early days.
In the five-hour interview, which covered a variety of other topics, Bennett said he asked Putin about whether he intended to kill Ukrainian President Volodymyr. Zelenskyy.
“I asked ‘what is this? Are you going to kill Zelenskyy?’ He said ‘I will not kill Zelenskyy.’ Then I told him ‘I must understand that you are promising me that you will not kill Zelenskyy.’ He said ‘I won’t kill Zelenskyy.'”
Bennett said he later phoned Zelenskyy to inform him of Putin’s commitment.
“‘Listen, I just finished a meeting, he’s not going to kill you.’ He asked, ‘are you sure?’ I said ‘100% he won’t kill you’.”
There was no immediate response from the Kremlin, which had previously denied Ukraine’s claim that Russia intended to assassinate Zelenskyy.
Reacting to Bennett’s comments during his widely reported interview, Ukraine’s Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba wrote on Twitter Sunday: “Don’t be fooled: He is an adept liar. Every when he promises not to do something, that’s exactly part of his plan.”
Bennett, a largely untested leader who had been prime minister for just over six months when war broke out, suddenly embarked on international diplomacy after he placed Israel in the middle. between Russia and Ukraine. Israel views good relations with the Kremlin as strategic in the face of threats from Iran, but it aligns with Western nations and also seeks to show support for Ukraine.
An observant Jew and little known internationally, he flew to Moscow to meet Putin on the Jewish Sabbath, breaking his religious commitments and putting himself at the forefront of political events. global effort to prevent war.
But his attempts at reconciliation appeared unsuccessful and his time in power was short-lived. Bennett’s government, an ideologically diverse coalition that sent incumbent Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu into short political exile, collapsed over the summer due to infighting. Bennett left politics and is now a regular citizen.