Naftali Bennett visits Moscow and Berlin amid Russia’s war with Ukraine
Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett met with Russian President Vladimir Putin in the Kremlin on Saturday to discuss Russia’s military conflict with Ukraine.
Bennett – a religious Jew who previously called Putin a “true friend” of the Jewish people – broke Sabbath to travel to Moscow for the meeting, though a spokesperson told Reuters that the violation was permissible as the meeting was with the aim to preserve human life.
Bennett reportedly spoke with Putin for three hours, during which the Israeli prime minister raised “the issue of the large Jewish community caught up in the war in Ukraine.”
The two leaders also reportedly discussed the Iran nuclear deal.
Following the meeting, Bennett traveled to Germany for a meeting with German Chancellor Olaf Scholz to discuss the conflict in Ukraine, before returning to Israel.
Israeli Prime Minister Bennett in a German government helicopter en route to meet with Chancellor Scholz in Berlin after his three-hour meeting with Russian President Putin in Moscow. pic.twitter.com/qj0yg7bE0V
— Avi Mayer (@AviMayer) March 5, 2022
During the day Bennett also spoke to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky at least twice on the phone.
“Prime Minister of Israel @naftalibennett called me after his meeting with Vladimir Putin. We continue dialogue,” declared Zelensky in a statement.
Following the meeting, Bennett spoke to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky on the phone and traveled to Germany for a meeting with German Chancellor Olaf Scholz.
Israel voted this week in favor of a United Nations resolution condemning Russia’s “aggression against Ukraine,” despite the country initially taking a more neutral stance.
Russia summoned Israel’s ambassador to Moscow last week to explain Israel’s position on the conflict after Israeli Foreign Minister Yair Lapid accused Moscow of engaging in “a grave violation of the international order.”
The Kremlin claims the February 24 attack was launched with the purpose of “demilitarization” and “denazification” of the country, and to protect the people of Eastern Ukraine following years of grueling blockade that claimed thousands of lives. Kiev insists the invasion was unprovoked, maintaining it had no plans to retake the break-away Donetsk and Lugansk regions by force.