Bennett didn’t push Zelensky to accept Putin offer, says adviser to Ukraine premier

Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelensky speaks in a video statement on March 12, 2022. (Screen capture: Facebook)
Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelensky speaks in a video statement on March 12, 2022. (Screen capture: Facebook)

An adviser to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky says Israel did not push the premier to accept an offer from Russian President Vladimir Putin — said to have included significant concessions — to end the Russian war on Ukraine.

Mikhail Podolyak tweets Saturday that Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett did not urge Ukraine to agree to the Russian demands, as reported Friday by two Hebrew-language outlets.

Bennett, Podolyak writes, “just as other conditional intermediary countries, does NOT offer Ukraine to agree to any demands of the Russian Federation. This is impossible for military & political reasons.”

Podolyak says that, instead, Israel has urged Russia “to assess the events more adequately.”

The reports in Walla and Haaretz Friday did not specify the details of Putin’s offer as reportedly conveyed by Bennett, but previous reports from Walla said that Putin is demanding an independent Donbas region, but stopping short of seeking regime change in Ukraine. Other reports have suggested that the plan Bennett brought to Zelensky includes recognizing Russia’s annexation of Crimea, recognizing Donetsk and Luhansk as separate entities, and changing the Ukrainian constitution to excise a commitment to joining NATO.

“Bennett has proposed that we surrender,” a senior Ukrainian official told the Israeli news sites. “We have no intention of doing so. We know that Putin’s proposal is just the beginning.”

The prime minister’s office denied the reports.

Israel has long had good relations with both Ukraine and Russia, and has been seeking to use its position to broker an agreement, as it also tries to walk a tightrope maintaining its ties to both countries. But its relationship with Kyiv has strained as Bennett has avoided directly blaming Russia for the war, although Foreign Minister Yair Lapid has done so.

Bennett traveled to Moscow last Saturday to meet with Putin.

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