Bennett’s mysterious meeting with Putin shrouded in secrecy

March 6, 2022 by Aryeh Savir - TPS
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Prime Minister Naftali Bennett met on Saturday in the Kremlin with Russian President Vladimir Putin in a mysterious meeting in the midst of the Sabbat shrouded in secrecy.

PM Naftali Bennett and President of Russia Vladimir Putin. October 2021 (Koby Gideon/GPO)

Bennett took off for Moscow on a plane usually used by the Mossad early Shabbat morning, after speaking with Putin on Wednesday for the second time in a week.

Construction and Housing Minister Zeev Elkin, who has significant experience in meetings with Putin, was at the meeting and assisted with translation. On Wednesday, Elkin met with the Russian ambassador to Israel. After the Ukrainian ambassador requested an urgent meeting, Elkin hosted him for dinner on Friday evening at his home.

Bennett was also accompanied by National Security Advisor and Director of the National Security Council Dr Eyal Hulata and Diplomatic Advisor Shimrit Meir.

Minister of Defence Benny Gantz, Foreign Minister Yair Lapid, and Finance Minister Avigdor Liberman were updated on Bennett’s trip in advance.

After his meeting at the Kremlin, Bennett spoke twice with Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelenskyy and with France’s President Emmanuel Macron.

Zelenskyy’s media adviser, Sergei Nikiforov stated that “nothing new had come up in the meeting” and the Kyiv is waiting for a direct meeting between Zelenskyy and Putin.

Bennett then flew to Berlin to meet with German Chancellor Olaf Scholz. German government spokesman Steffen Hebestreit said that the focus of the 90-minute conversation was the results of the talks that Bennet had with Putin in Moscow.

“Scholz and Bennett agreed to remain in close contact and pledged to work on ending the Ukraine conflict as quickly as possible,” he stated.

Bennett returned to Israel in the early hours of Sunday morning.

The content and outcome of Bennett’s shuttle diplomacy are still unknown.

A source in Jerusalem is quoted as saying that Bennett’s meeting with Putin lasted for about three hours, and was coordinated with the US, Germany, and France while maintaining an ongoing dialogue with Ukraine.

Bennett spoke with Putin about the situation of Israelis and Jewish communities as a result of the conflict in Ukraine, and the progress of the nuclear talks in Vienna. Bennett expressed Israel’s opposition to the return to the nuclear agreement with Iran, the source said.

A source in Washington is quoted as saying that Bennett spoke with US National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan on Friday and informed him that he was flying to Moscow the next day for a meeting with Putin. Bennett did not ask for approval but only updated the White House, and Sullivan did not object but was not enthusiastic about it either, the report said.

White House officials clarified that they were sceptical about Bennett’s chances of influencing Putin’s position, according to a source.

It is unclear why Bennett, an observant Jew, saw the urgent need to fly to Moscow on Saturday.

Most commentators said that Bennett’s actions are bold but also very risky.

Diplomatically, Israel has been attempting to maintain a seemingly neutral line and keep a low profile by showing some support for Ukraine and aligning with the West while trying not to anger Moscow, with which it has ties and with which it coordinates its military actions against terror targets inside Syria.

Israel has issued a weak condemnation of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, accusing it of “a serious violation of international order” but not of international law.

Israel has yet to level any kind of sanctions against Russia. Bennett has stated several times that his government is “conducting a measured and responsible policy” vis-à-vis the crisis in Europe.


One Response to “Bennett’s mysterious meeting with Putin shrouded in secrecy”
  1. Adrian Jackson says:

    Good on the PM of Israel for trying to mediate but Putin is a inflexible KGB thug and some say he is “nuts”. With Ukraine the invasion may be the easy part, if successful, but the occupation will be plagued by counter invasion warfare by the Ukrainians for years if necessary. Just read up on what happened when countries invade another countries like Afghanistan many times by the Macedonians (Alexander the, so called, Great), British in the 19th century, Soviets and Americans more recently, South Vietnam 50 years ago and Iraq recently too. All military and political failures on behalf of the invaders.

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