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March 2, 2022 5:04 pm

Putin Tells Bennett in Call: Russia’s ‘Security Interests’ Key to Ending Conflict

avatar by Sharon Wrobel

Russian President Vladimir Putin attends a meeting with the head of the Russian Union of Industrialists and Entrepreneurs Alexander Shokhin in Moscow, Russia March 2, 2022. Sputnik/Mikhail Klimentyev/Kremlin via REUTERS

Prime Minister Naftali Bennett on Wednesday spoke first with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky and then Russian President Vladimir Putin, just days after the Israeli leader asked to mediate between the two sides over the military conflict.

The conversations marked the second time Bennett has discussed the escalation with the two leaders since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

Ukraine’s Zelensky tweeted that he spoke to Bennett over the phone about the “Russian aggression,” while the Israeli prime minister’s office said the call was a follow-up conversation from last Friday, during which the pair agreed to stay in contact.

The two leaders discussed Israel’s continued humanitarian aid to Ukraine, Israeli news outlet Ynet reported. Zelensky mentioned the Russian missile attack close to the Babi Yar Holocaust memorial site in Kyiv on Tuesday, which he called a “barbaric act.”

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Earlier on Wednesday, Zelensky issued a Hebrew-language plea for Jewish communities around the world to express solidarity with his embattled country, accusing Russia of “killing the victims of the Holocaust again” by targeting Babi Yar.

The Ukrainian president also told Bennett that the Russians had dropped bombs on the historic city of Uman, where many Jews visit the site of the tomb of Rabbi Nachman of Breslov, the founder of the Breslover Hasidim. Zelensky also reiterated his pledge to Bennett for military assistance.

Following the call, Bennett at his own initiative talked to Putin, who clarified Moscow’s position on “resolving the conflict,” Russia’s state-owned TASS news agency quoted the Kremlin as saying.

“Putin clarified Russia’s principled position (…) including the need to take Russia’s security interests into account, demilitarize and denazify the Ukrainian state and ensure its neutral and non-nuclear status, as well as to recognize Russia’s sovereignty over Crimea and the independence of the Donetsk and Lugansk People’s Republics,” the statement read.

Bennett “shared some of his views on the issue based on his recent contacts with the leaders of a number of countries,” the Kremlin stated. Putin and Bennett agreed to remain in contact.

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