Israeli PM Bennett holds three-hours talk with President Putin in Kremlin, flies later to Berlin in a diplomatic push to end bloodshed in Ukraine.
While President Joe Biden is absent from the world state, Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett is leading the diplomatic push to end the bloodshed in Ukraine.
On Saturday, the Israeli Prime Minister met with Russian President Vladimir Putin in the Kremlin in a bid to halt the ongoing Russian invasion of Ukraine. “Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett met Russian President Vladimir Putin in the Kremlin on Saturday to discuss the war in Ukraine and later spoke by phone with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy,” the Reuters reported.
The Israeli peace initiative comes as Europe faces its biggest military conflict since the end of the Cold War thirty years ago. Over 2000 Ukrainian civilians have been killed and millions displaced since Russia started the offensive eleven days ago.
The meeting in Moscow appears to be part of a shuttle diplomacy in a bid to bring Russia back to the negotiating table with the West. The Israeli leader and Russian President Vladimir Putin talked for three hours before leaving for Berlin to have further deliberations with German Chancellor Olaf Scholz. On Wednesday, the German leader made a surprise visit to Jerusalem amid the raging war in Ukraine.
“It is assumed that the meeting between the two is part of an attempt to mediate between Putin and the West as relations between the two sides continue to deteriorate due to the harsh economic sanctions hitting Moscow in the wake of the attack on Ukraine,” the Israeli news website Ynetnews reported.
The Associated Press reported Jerusalem’s diplomatic effort:
Israel’s prime minister met with Russian President Vladimir Putin for several hours in Moscow on Saturday.
Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett’s office confirmed the meeting at the Kremlin, which came just days after Bennett spoke over the phone with both Russian and Ukrainian leaders.
Bennett’s office said he departed early Saturday morning for Moscow, accompanied by Russian-speaking Cabinet minister Zeev Elkin, who was born in Ukraine. Both men are observant Jews and wouldn’t normally travel on the Sabbath.
Israel is one of the few countries that has good working relations with both sides. The country has delivered humanitarian aid to Ukraine, but also maintains ties with Moscow to make sure that Israeli and Russian warplanes do not come into conflict in neighboring Syria.
The meeting ended after about three hours, according to an Israeli official who spoke on condition of anonymity. The official said the meeting was coordinated with the U.S., Germany and France and that Bennett “is in ongoing dialogue with Ukraine.”
Bennett, an observant Jew, undertook the visit on a Shabbat, underlining the earnestness of his mission. It is unclear if the Russian leader is open to a diplomatic resolution as this point “but the fact that Bennett and Building and Construction Minister Ze’ev Elkin, who served as translator, traveled abroad despite normally observing Shabbat, shows the urgency and importance with which they view their mission: to save lives, Jewish and not,” Jerusalem Post‘s diplomatic correspondent Lahav Harkov noted on Saturday.
“This trip to Moscow – followed by a visit to Berlin and, possibly, Paris – is a turning point in which Bennett has taken on the role of shuttle diplomat and peacemaker.” she added.
Ukraine's Ambassador to Israel on the prospect of Israeli mediation:
“Our president believes that Israel is the only democratic state that has good relations with both Russia and Ukraine, and can be used to help”
— Samuel Ramani (@SamRamani2) March 5, 2022
Russia Threatens to Scuttle Biden’s Iran Deal Over Ukraine Sanctions
The Russian government has threatened to torpedo President Joe Biden’s nuclear deal with Iran, if U.S. sanctions over Ukraine stop Moscow from selling nuclear and weapons technology to the Iranians.
“Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said Saturday that Moscow is demanding guarantees from the US before backing the Iran nuclear deal, citing the current wave of Western sanctions against Russia,” The Times of Israel reported.
This will be a big setback for the Biden administration as it looks to close the deal with Iran in coming days. The terms offered to Tehran to revive the 2015 nuclear deal could include lifting all sanctions on the regime and removing the Islamic Guard Corps (IRGC), the regime’s foreign terrorist arm, from the U.S. terror list.
The Wall Street Journal reported the Russian demand:
Fresh demands from Russia threatened to derail talks to restore the 2015 Iran nuclear deal, as Moscow said it wanted written guarantees that Ukraine-related sanctions won’t prevent it from trading broadly with Tehran under a revived pact.
The demands, made by Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov on Saturday, came as Western and Iranian officials said they were near to reaching a deal to restore the nuclear pact, which lifted most international sanctions on Iran in exchange for tight but temporary restrictions on Tehran’s nuclear programs. (…)
However, Mr. Lavrov appeared to demand far more sweeping guarantees that could introduce major loopholes in the tight financial, economic and energy sanctions the West has imposed in recent days because of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
The Iranian regime is alarmed that the last-minute Russian demand could jeopardize their hopes of restoring the lucrative Obama-era deal. “Russia’s demand for written U.S. guarantees that sanctions on Moscow would not harm Russian cooperation with Iran is “not constructive” for talks between Tehran and global powers to revive a 2015 nuclear deal, a senior Iranian official said on Saturday,” the Reuters reported.
EU Begs China to ‘Mediate’ in Ukraine Crisis
As Russian forces march deeper into Ukrainian territory, the European Union is begging China to act as mediators between Kremlin and the West.
On Saturday, EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell pleaded with China to play a diplomatic role. “There is no alternative. We [Europeans] cannot be the mediators, that is clear … And it cannot be the US either. Who else? It has to be China, I trust in that,” Borrell told Spanish newspaper El Mundo.
While the U.S., European Union, and Britain slapped massive trade and financial sanctions on Moscow, China is emerging as the biggest backer of the Putin regime. As the clueless EU policy chief places his ‘trust’ in China, the Communist regime is putting its weight behind Putin’s invasion of Ukraine. Beijing has refused to recognize U.S. and Western sections on Russia and ordered Chinese media outlets to disseminate pro-Moscow propaganda.
“China won’t join such sanctions” and “will continue to maintain normal economic, trade and financial exchanges with” Russia, declared Guo Shuqing, head of the China Banking and Insurance Regulatory Commission.
Russian Forces Inching Towards Kyiv, Lay Siege of Port City of Odesa
As the invasion entered its eleventh day, Russian forces are inching towards the Ukrainian capital Kyiv. The advance of a 40 miles-long Russian convoy appears to have been stalled. The Russian military has so far failed to encircle Kyiv, but the fighting has reached the outskirts of the city.
“There has been intense fighting to the north-west of Kyiv, where Russian troops have been attempting to re-take the strategic Hostomel airfield,” the BBC reported on Sunday. “Moscow’s forces have also been bombarding Irpin, a town on the outskirts of Kyiv.”
The Russians military are advancing in the south of the country in a push to cut the country’s access to the sea. The invading Russian forces have besieged the port city of Mariupol and are moving towards the strategic port of Odesa, the news reports on Sunday suggest.
German broadcaster Deutsche Welle reported the siege of Odesa:
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said on Sunday that Russian forces were preparing to bombard the major port city of Odesa. (…)
Russian troops entering Ukraine from the Crimean peninsula — territory occupied by Russia since 2014 — have advanced along the coast, having taken control of Kherson and laid siege to other coastal cities, but so far Odesa has largely been spared.
The population of Odesa is close to 1 million people, including both Ukrainian and Russian speakers as well as sizeable Bulgarian and Jewish minorities. It has also been a hotspot for Russian tourists.
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