Bennett was the lead mediator between Russia and Ukraine - report

Both Moscow and Kyiv expressed openness to holding peace talks in Jerusalem.

 Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett speaks at the annual ceremony for soldiers whose burial places are unknown, at the National Hall of Remembrance, Mount Herzl, Jerusalem, March 10, 2022. (photo credit: ALEX KOLOMOISKY/POOL)
Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett speaks at the annual ceremony for soldiers whose burial places are unknown, at the National Hall of Remembrance, Mount Herzl, Jerusalem, March 10, 2022.
(photo credit: ALEX KOLOMOISKY/POOL)

Prime Minister Naftali Bennett was the lead mediator between Russia and Ukraine, according to three officials close to the talks, the Financial Times reported on Wednesday. According to the officials, the talks that were mediated by Bennett led to the first draft of the ceasefire agreement which is currently being discussed.

In the last day, reports came from both Moscow and Kyiv that there has been significant progress in the peace negotiations. According to reports, the plan for a ceasefire involves Russia withdrawing from Ukrainian territory in exchange for Kyiv dropping its attempts to join NATO and limiting its military forces.

Mykhailo Podolyak, an adviser to Zelensky tweeted on Wednesday that the "draft" published by the Times "represents the position of the Russian side. Nothing more." 

He added that Ukraine has its "own positions," emphasizing that the path to an end to the war will be difficult. 

"The only thing we confirm at this stage is a ceasefire, withdrawal of Russian troops and security guarantees from a number of countries," he added. 

On Tuesday, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said in a televised interview that he did not believe there was an "open door" for Ukraine to join NATO and said that it would have to explore alternative methods to ensure its safety independently.

However, sources in Kyiv have expressed doubt and claimed that Russian President Vladimir Putin is not fully committed to peace and said they are concerned that Putin is just buying time to reorganize his forces for a renewed attack.

The Financial Times report claimed that Bennett was leading the negotiations in light of his surprise visit to Moscow on March 5 and constant phone calls with Putin and Zelensky. At the beginning of the week, the possibility of peace talks being held in Israel was raised, a suggestion that both Russia and Ukraine expressed openness towards.

 Russian President Vladimir Putin, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky (credit: SPUTNIK/MIKHAIL KLIMENTYEV/KREMLIN VIA REUTERS, VALENTYN OGIRENKO/REUTERS) Russian President Vladimir Putin, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky (credit: SPUTNIK/MIKHAIL KLIMENTYEV/KREMLIN VIA REUTERS, VALENTYN OGIRENKO/REUTERS)

Peace talks resumed on Tuesday after taking a pause on Monday.