According to the former Israeli prime minister who acted as a mediator when Russia’s conflict with Ukraine first erupted, Vladimir Putin vowed not to assassinate his Ukrainian equivalent.
During the early stages of the war, Naftali Bennett served as a middleman. He was one of the few Western allies to see the Russian president during a trip to Moscow in March.
Details of his meeting have now been revealed in a marathon five-hour-long interview posted online.
“I asked, ‘’what’s with this? Are you planning to kill (Ukrainian President Volodymyr) Zelensky?’” Bennet told interviewers. “Putin said, ‘I won’t kill Zelensky.”
“I then said to him, ‘I have to understand that you’re giving me your word that you won’t kill Zelensky.’ He said ‘I’m not going to kill Zelensky.’”
Having completed the call with Putin, Bennett said he then rang Ukraine’s presidential office to tell Zelensky of his Russian foe’s promise.
“Listen, I came out of a meeting. He’s not going to kill you.’” Bennett said.
“He asks, ‘are you sure?’ I said, ‘100 percent, he won’t kill you.’”
Bennett also claimed that during his mediation, Putin dropped his vow to seek Ukraine’s disarmament and Zelensky promised not to join NATO.
There was no immediate response from the Kremlin, which has previously denied Ukrainian claims that Russia intended to assassinate Zelensky.
Reacting to Bennett’s comments, Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba wrote on Twitter that Putin was not to be trusted.
“Do not be fooled. He is an expert liar. Every time he has promised not to do something, it has been exactly part of his plan,” Kuleba declared.
Sadly, Bennett’s mediation efforts were futile and the war still rages on.