Bennett Claims Putin Promised Him He Would Not Kill Zelensky

Former Prime Minister Naftali Bennett meets with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Moscow, Russia, in 2021. (Kobi Gideon/GPO)

(AP) – Former Prime Minister Naftali Bennett, who served briefly as a mediator at the start of Russia’s war with Ukraine, says he drew a promise from the Russian president not to kill his Ukrainian counterpart.

Bennett became an unlikely intermediary in the war’s first weeks, becoming one of the few Western leaders to meet President Vladimir Putin during the war in a snap trip to Moscow last March.

While Bennett’s mediation efforts did little to end the bloodshed that continues until today, his remarks, in an interview posted online over the weekend, shed light on the backroom diplomacy and urgent efforts that were underway to try to bring the conflict to a speedy conclusion in its early days.

In the five-hour interview, which touched on numerous other subjects, Bennett says he asked Putin about whether he intended to kill Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky.

“I asked ‘what’s up with this? Are you planning to kill Zelensky?’ He 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.'”

Bennett said he then called Zelensky 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 ‘100% he won’t kill you.'”

The former prime minister said that during his mediation, Putin dropped his vow to seek Ukraine’s disarmament and Zelensky promised not to join NATO.

Bennett’s peacemaking efforts did not appear to take off and his time in power was short-lived. Bennett’s government collapsed in the summer over infighting. Bennett stepped away from politics and is now a private citizen.

To Read The Full Story

Are you already a subscriber?
Click to log in!