Updated Mar 6, 2022 - World

Israeli leader holds multiple calls on Ukraine cease-fire with Zelensky and Putin

Bennett and Putin
Russian President Vladimir Putin, right, speaks with Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett during their meeting, in Sochi, on Oct. 22 2021. Photo: Yevgeny Biyatov/Sputnik/AFP via Getty Images

Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett spoke on Sunday with Russian President Vladimir Putin and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky and continued his efforts to promote a cease-fire.

Why it matters: Bennett’s overtures are part of a wider effort that includes French President Emmanuel Macron and German Chancellor Olaf Scholz. The three leaders are coordinating their outreach to Putin and Zelensky.

Driving the news: Bennett visited Moscow on Saturday and met Putin in the Kremlin. He was the only Western leader to do so since the Russian invasion of Ukraine. Before departing Moscow on Saturday, Bennett called Zelensky and briefed him on the meeting.

  • Bennett traveled from Moscow to Berlin and met with Scholz to update him on the meeting with Putin. On his way to the airport in Berlin before flying back to Israel, Bennett spoke to Macron and had another call with Zelensky.
  • On Sunday morning, Bennett spoke again to Zelensky. This was their third call in less than 15 hours. On Sunday afternoon, he spoke again with Putin. After the call with Putin, Bennett again called Macron and Scholz.
  • Israeli, German and French officials who Axios spoke with declined to give any details about the content of this flurry of phone calls and engagements between their leaders and Putin and Zelensky.

What they are saying: During a cabinet meeting on Sunday, Bennett said he went to Moscow to assist the dialogue between all sides. He stressed he got the blessing and encouragement of all players involved.

  • “I cannot go into greater detail. We will continue to assist as needed. Even if the chance is not great — as soon as there is even a small opening, and we have access to all sides and the capability — I see this as our moral obligation to make every effort,” said the prime minister.

What’s next: Bennett is keeping the Biden administration informed of his talks with Putin and Zelensky. His national security adviser, Eyal Hulata, spoke by phone on Saturday and on Sunday with U.S. counterpart Jake Sullivan to brief him, Israeli officials told Axios.

  • Israel’s foreign minister will meet Secretary of State Antony Blinken in Latvia on Monday. Israeli officials said the reason for the meeting is to coordinate positions with the U.S. regarding the cease-fire efforts.

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