Naftali Bennett, the former Prime Minister of Israel, to whom Ukraine had reached out for mediation, said Vladimir Putin had promised he would not kill Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy.
What Happened: Bennett, who made a surprise visit to Moscow to meet Putin in the early days of the war, in an interview posted on YouTube, said the Russian president promised not to assassinate Zelenskyy.
Bennett emerged as an unlikely intermediary in the early days of Putin’s war with Ukraine, although his mediation efforts had little impact on ending the conflict.
“I asked ‘What’s with this? Are you planning to kill Zelenskyy?’ He said ‘I won’t kill Zelenskyy.’ I then said to him ‘I have to understand that you’re giving me your word that you won’t kill Zelenskyy.’ He said ‘I’m not going to kill Zelenskyy.'”
Bennett had also told Zelenskyy to inform him of Putin’s pledge. “‘Listen, I came out of a meeting, he’s not going to kill you.’ He asks, ‘Are you sure?’ I said ‘One hundred percent he won’t kill you.'”
The five-hour interview shed light on the backroom diplomacy and the efforts that were being made by the world leaders to try to bring the war to a speedy conclusion in its early days.
Meanwhile, Bennett’s comments were disputed by the Ukrainian presidential aide.
“Ex-official’s claims on ‘mediation’ that Putin allegedly gave ‘guarantees not to kill’ and ‘the West interrupted promising negotiations’ are fiction,” Mykhailo Podolyak said on Twitter.
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