Bennett Key Mediator in Ukraine-Russia Talks, Report Says

Israel's Bennett has been holding back-to-back calls with Zelenskyy and Putin in the Ukraine-Russia talks ■ Significant progress has reportedly been made on a peace plan

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Haaretz
Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett walking towards a helicopter following a visit to Moscow this month.
Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett walking towards a helicopter following a visit to Moscow this month.Credit: AFP PHOTO / GPO
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Haaretz

Prime Minister Naftali Bennett has been the prime mediator in talks between Ukraine and Russia, and significant progress on a tentative peace plan has been made, the Financial Times reported on Wednesday.

The proposed 15-point peace plan includes a ceasefire and withdrawal of Russian troops if Kyiv declares neutrality and limits its military, the Financial Times reported, citing three people party to the negotiations.

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Putin’s press secretary Dmitry Peskov said on Wednesday that neutrality for Ukraine modeled off of Austria or Sweden was possible.

The tentative plan, however, could be a hurdle in the conclusion of the peace plan, sources said. It demands a renunciation of Kyiv's ambitions to join NATO as well as a promise not to host foreign military base or weapons from allies.

The status of Ukrainian territories seized by Russia in 2014 may also be an obstacle.

Mykhailo Podolyak, a senior advisor to Zelenskyy, told the Financial Times that Ukraine was proposing a model of "security guarantees," which would require guarantor countries in the conflict to side with Ukraine in the event that its territorial integrity is threatened again. He added that in any deal, Ukraine would maintain its own army.

Russian foreign minister Sergei Lavrov said they had reached a point in the negotiations in which "specific wordings" were being discussed, the Financial Times said.

However, Ukrainian officials are reportedly skeptical of Moscow's intentions. A previous security agreement signed in 1994 failed to prevent Russian aggression against Ukraine.

U.S. state department spokesperson Ned Price said on Wednesday that the U.S. was welcoming the optimism in talks between Russia and Ukraine but that Washington saw no indication of tangible de-escalation on Russia's part, as Ukrainian cities continued to face heavy shelling.

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