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Live Updates: Putin Threatens to Strip Ukraine of Statehood, As Russian Advance Slows

Prime Minister Naftali Bennett of Israel traveled to Moscow to fulfill on the Kremlin with President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia, in keeping with Israeli and Russian officers, a uncommon second of diplomacy in a battle that has stretched into its second week.

“The state of affairs round Ukraine is being mentioned,” a Kremlin spokesman, Dmitry Peskov, instructed reporters, in accordance RIA Novosti, a state-controlled information web site.

The assembly comes at a essential time within the battle, as Russian forces are encircling main cities and Ukraine is teetering right into a humanitarian disaster. Russian and Ukrainian diplomats are persevering with bilateral talks, however a number of overtures at diplomacy by third events, together with efforts by President Emmanuel Macron of France, have stalled.

Israel is in a singular place to probably barter a deal, or not less than cross messages between Western allies, Russia and Ukraine, given its alliance with the USA, its quiet cooperation with Russia in Syria and is shared cultural ties to Ukraine. Mr. Bennett and President Volodymyr Zelensky of Ukraine are the world’s solely two Jews on the head of nationwide governments.

Mr. Bennett’s workplace mentioned in an announcement on Saturday night that the assembly with Mr. Putin lasted about three hours and passed off “in coordination and with the blessing of the U.S. administration.” As well as, the assertion added, Mr. Bennett was working in coordination with Germany and France and was “in ongoing dialogue with Ukraine.”

There was no rapid details about any end result from the assembly. A spokeswoman for Mr. Bennett mentioned that he had spoken with Mr. Zelensky after his assembly with Mr. Putin.

The Israeli authorities has tried to take care of good relations with each the Russian and Ukrainian leaders through the present disaster, and Mr. Bennett was beforehand requested by Mr. Zelensky to mediate between the perimeters.

Mr. Bennett left Moscow on Saturday night on his solution to Berlin to fulfill with the Chancellor Olaf Scholz of Germany. Mr. Scholz was in Israel for a brief go to this week and, in a gathering with Mr. Bennett, mentioned Israel’s doable function in mediation between Russia and Ukraine.

Mr. Bennett had spoken by telephone with Mr. Putin on Wednesday, hours after talking with Mr. Zelensky, the final of few rounds of telephone conversations between them.

In an indication of the urgency of the mission, Mr. Bennett, an observant Jew, left Israel on Saturday morning, through the Sabbath, breaking the spiritual injunction towards journey. In accordance with Jewish spiritual legislation, the sanctity of the Sabbath is overridden by the precept of preserving human life.

Mr. Bennett was accompanied by Zeev Elkin, the Israeli housing minister, who assisted with translation, in keeping with the Israeli prime minister’s workplace. Mr. Elkin ceaselessly acted in an identical capability over the previous decade in conferences between Mr. Bennett’s predecessor, Benjamin Netanyahu, and Mr. Putin.

Mr. Elkin, who can also be an observant Jew, was born in Kharkiv, Ukraine, in 1971, when it was a part of the Soviet Union, and emigrated to Israel in 1990. Mr. Elkin has a brother nonetheless residing together with his household in Kharkiv, the place Russian and Ukrainian forces have been preventing for management.

The Israeli delegation additionally included the prime minister’s nationwide safety adviser, Eyal Hulata, his diplomatic adviser, Shimrit Meir, and his spokesman, Matan Sidi.

Mr. Bennett had are available for criticism in latest days, together with from Mr. Zelensky, for not siding extra stridently with Ukraine and for refraining from supplying it with any navy tools.

Israeli officers mentioned that Israel needed to preserve good relations with Russia so as to have the ability to proceed Israel’s navy marketing campaign towards Iranian and Hezbollah entrenchment in Syria, the place Russia maintains a big presence.

They mentioned Israel was additionally involved in regards to the giant Jewish communities in each Russia and Ukraine. After Saturday’s assembly on the Kremlin, Mr. Bennett’s workplace mentioned he had additionally spoken with Mr. Putin in regards to the state of affairs of Israelis and Jewish communities because of the battle in Ukraine.

Saturday’s assembly comes after a number of requests from Mr. Zelensky, each to Mr. Netanyahu and Mr. Bennett, to mediate between him and Mr. Putin. The final request was made in a phone dialog held on Feb. 25, throughout which Mr. Zelensky additionally requested navy tools. Whereas declining to ship defensive gear, Mr. Bennett agreed to attempt to mediate between the nations.

A number of rounds of phone conversations adopted between Mr. Bennett and Mr. Putin, between Mr. Bennett and Mr. Zelensky, and between officers from their groups. Israeli officers imagine the Israeli mediation had some impact in bringing Ukraine to comply with getting into into talks with Russia in Belarus.

Mr. Hulata, Israel’s nationwide safety adviser, has been updating the White Home Nationwide Safety Council on developments for the reason that phone dialog with Mr. Zelensky.

Israeli officers mentioned that the assembly on the Kremlin additionally touched on the progress of the talks in Vienna for a return to a nuclear settlement with Iran, and that Mr. Bennett expressed Israel’s opposition to a return to the settlement.



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