Israeli PM Bennett meets Putin in Moscow to discuss Ukraine crisis

Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett attends the Cybertech TLV conference in Tel Aviv
FILE PHOTO: Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett attends the Cybertech TLV conference in Tel Aviv, Israel, March 3, 2022. REUTERS/Amir Cohen

March 5, 2022

By Dan Williams

JERUSALEM (Reuters) -Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett met with Russian President Vladimir Putin in the Kremlin on Saturday to discuss the Ukraine crisis, his spokesperson said.

Israel, home to a substantial population of Russian immigrants, has offered to mediate in the conflict between Russia and Ukraine, though officials have previously played down expectations of a breakthrough.

While Israel, a close ally of the United States, has condemned the Russian invasion, voiced solidarity with Kyiv and sent humanitarian aid to Ukraine, it has said it will maintain communications with Moscow in the hope of helping to ease the crisis.

Israel is also mindful of Moscow’s military support for President Bashar al-Assad in next-door Syria, where Israel regularly attacks Iranian and Hezbollah military targets. Contacts with Moscow prevent Russian and Israeli forces trading fire by accident.

Bennett, a religious Jew, took a flight in violation of Sabbath law because Judaism permits this when the aim is to preserve human life, his spokesperson said.

(Reporting by Dan Williams; Writing by Maayan Lubell; Editing by Kevin Liffey)

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