Israel’s former prime minister who served as a mediator during the start of Russia’s war with Ukraine has claimed Vladimir Putin promised he would not kill his Ukrainian counterpart.
Naftali Bennett was an intermediary in the first weeks of the conflict, becoming one of the few leaders allied to the West to meet the Russian president during a trip to Moscow last March.
Sadly, Bennett’s mediation efforts were futile and war rages on.
Details of his meeting have now been revealed in a marathon five-hour-long interview posted online.
‘I asked, ”what’s with this? Are you planning to kill (Ukrainian President Volodymyr) Zelensky?” Bennet told interviewers. ‘Putin said, ”I won’t kill Zelensky.”
‘I then said to him, ”I have to understand that you’re giving me your word that you won’t kill Zelensky.” He said ”I’m not going to kill Zelensky.”’
Having completed the call with Putin, Bennett said he then rang Ukraine’s presidential office to tell Zelensky of his Russian foe’s promise.
‘Listen, I came out of a meeting, he’s not going to kill you,’ Bennett said.
‘He asks, ”are you sure?” I said, ”100 percent, he won’t kill you”.’
Bennett also claimed that during his mediation, Putin dropped his vow to seek Ukraine’s disarmament and Zelensky promised not to join NATO.
There was no immediate response from the Kremlin, which has previously denied Ukrainian claims that Russia intended to assassinate Zelensky.
Reacting to Bennett’s comments, Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba wrote on Twitter that Putin was not to be trusted.
‘Do not be fooled: He is an expert liar. Every time he has promised not to do something, it has been exactly part of his plan,’ Kuleba declared.