Bennett, Putin speak about Ukraine, continuing mediation

Bennett began trying to mediate between Russia and Ukraine earlier this month.

 Prime Minister Naftali Bennett at a previous meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Sochi, Russia. (photo credit: Sputnik/Kremlin/Reuters)
Prime Minister Naftali Bennett at a previous meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Sochi, Russia.
(photo credit: Sputnik/Kremlin/Reuters)

Prime Minister Naftali Bennett continued his efforts to mediate between Moscow and Kyiv, speaking with Russian President Vladimir Putin on Wednesday.

“Bennett shared his evaluation of the situation in Ukraine, considering his contact with leaders of a number of foreign countries, and referred to ideas related to the continuing negotiations,” the Kremlin said.

The Prime Minister’s Office did not release a statement.

Russian state media also said that Putin offered his condolences to Bennett following the terrorist attack in Beersheba on Tuesday, in which a Bedouin man murdered four Jews.

Bennett began his mediation between Russia and Ukraine earlier this month, flying to Moscow to meet with Putin and speaking with him and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky multiple times a week.

 Knesset Speaker Mickey Levy (Yesh Atid) addressing Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, March 20, 2022.  (credit: NOAM MOSKOVITZ/KNESSET) Knesset Speaker Mickey Levy (Yesh Atid) addressing Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, March 20, 2022. (credit: NOAM MOSKOVITZ/KNESSET)

The prime minister also expressed his willingness to meet with Zelensky in Kyiv, if there is progress in the negotiations.

In his speech to the Knesset on Sunday, Zelensky criticized “mediation without choosing a side,” saying: “You can mediate between countries but not between good and evil.”

Hours later, in a video message on his Telegram channel, Zelensky said: “Of course, Israel has its interests, strategy to protect its citizens. We understand all of it. The prime minister of Israel, Mr. Bennett, is trying to find a way of holding talks, and we are grateful for this.”

Zelensky thanked Bennett, and repeated his call for a summit in Jerusalem.

“We are grateful for his efforts, so that sooner or later we will begin to have talks with Russia, possibly in Jerusalem,” Zelensky said. “That’s the right place to find peace if possible.”

Zelensky first proposed that Israel host talks between Ukraine and Russia a year ago, when Benjamin Netanyahu was prime minister. Netanyahu offered Putin to mediate twice last year, and Bennett suggested it once, but they were rejected each time. The Russian president only began to entertain the idea after he had already invaded Ukraine.