Herzog says Israel taking 'proper' steps to stop bloodshed

Bennett holds follow-up call with Putin after Moscow meeting

Amid diplomatic efforts to mediate conflict in Ukraine, PM also speaks to French, German leaders; Lapid to meet Blinken on Monday

Russian President Vladimir Putin (right) and Prime Minister Naftali Bennett speak during their meeting in Sochi, Russia, on October 22, 2021. (Evgeny Biyatov, Sputnik, Kremlin Pool Photo via AP/ File)
Russian President Vladimir Putin (right) and Prime Minister Naftali Bennett speak during their meeting in Sochi, Russia, on October 22, 2021. (Evgeny Biyatov, Sputnik, Kremlin Pool Photo via AP/ File)

Following their meeting in Moscow, Prime Minister Naftali Bennett and Russian President Vladimir Putin spoke on the phone on Sunday, according to a statement from the Kremlin and a spokesperson for the prime minister.

There were no immediate details on the content of the call.

Bennett also spoke with French President Emmanuel Macron and German Chancellor Olaf Scholz, the spokesperson said.

On Saturday, Bennett flew to Moscow to meet with Putin, becoming the first Western leader to sit down with the Russian leader since he invaded Ukraine on February 24. After spending three hours with Putin, Bennett flew straight to Berlin and met with German Chancellor Olaf Scholz, just days after the pair met in Jerusalem.

Few details were provided on the content of either meeting.

Bennett’s trip was seen as an effort to further develop a potential role as mediator between the sides, as Israel has good relations with both Kyiv and Moscow.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky gestures as he speaks during a press conference in Kyiv on March 3, 2022. (Sergei SUPINSKY / AFP)

During a cabinet meeting Sunday, Bennett said that Israel had a moral obligation to work to broker peace talks between Russia and Ukraine, even if the likelihood for progress was slim.

“I returned from Moscow and Berlin a few hours ago,” Bennett said. “I went there to assist the dialogue between all of the sides, of course with the blessing and encouragement of all players.”

Bennett said that he could not “go into greater detail” on the talks he held with Putin or his phone calls with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky.

Foreign Minister Yair Lapid is set to meet with US Secretary of State Antony Blinken in Latvia’s capital of Riga on Monday, his office said.

President Isaac Herzog said on Sunday that Israel is taking “welcomed and proper steps” to prevent further bloodshed in Ukraine.

President Isaac Herzog speaks during a ceremony announcing the winners of the Wolf Foundation award, at the President’s Residence in Jerusalem, on February 8, 2022. (Olivier Fitoussi/Flash90)

“In this context, and at this hour of a global storm, I wish to pay my respects to the anonymous soldiers working night and day providing humanitarian aid at the front of the war in Ukraine,” he said during a swearing-in ceremony for new judges at the President’s Residence in Jerusalem.

Herzog also thanked officials and civilians working in the war-torn country, saying they are “the beautiful face of our nation.”

“[They] act in the spirit of the sages, who said, ‘Whosoever saves a single life, it is as if he saved an entire world,'” he said.

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