Prime Minister Naftali Bennett proposes that Israel serve as a mediator between Russia and Ukraine during his phone call with President Vladimir Putin, according to the Kremlin’s readout, which doesn’t say how the latter responded to Jerusalem’s offer.
The Kremlin says Putin told Bennett that Russia has sent a delegation to Gomel in southern Belarus to conduct peace talks with Ukrainian officials, who have refused to come. Ukrainian officials have described the Russian move as a “manipulation,” noting that Ukraine hasn’t agreed to hold talks in Belarus.
Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky emphasized the country’s readiness for peace talks but has said that they can’t be held in Moscow’s ally Belarus, which has allowed Russia to use its territory as a staging ground for the invasion that began Thursday.
Putin told Bennett that he is ready to negotiate, according to an Israeli official.
Bennett says Israel is ready to assist in any way possible in bringing the sides together, in light of its unique relationship with both countries.
The two spoke around noon today, and agreed to remain in close contact, an Israeli official says.
The Israeli readout does not include any points on Iran, which is usually a top issue for Bennett in calls with foreign leaders.
It is the first time that Bennett and Putin have spoken since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
Bennett spoke with Zelensky on Friday, during which the Ukraine president proposed the same Israeli mediation idea.