Israel Not Pushing Ukraine to Yield to Russian Demands, Ukraine Adviser Says

On Friday, an unnamed Ukrainian senior government official harshly criticized Bennett's effort to mediate the crisis with Russia, saying that Bennett pressured Zelenskyy to accept Putin's conditions for ending the war

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Prime Minister Naftali Bennett speaks in the Knesset, on Tuesday.
Prime Minister Naftali Bennett speaks in the Knesset, on Tuesday.Credit: Ohad Zwigenberg

A top Ukrainian adviser on Saturday pushed back against suggestions that Israel tried to nudge Ukraine into caving to Russian demands during talks.

Israel has been engaged in diplomatic efforts to try to end the war in Ukraine. Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett has held talks with Russian President Vladimir Putin and spoke by phone with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy.

Israel, "just as other conditional intermediary countries, does NOT offer Ukraine to agree to any demands of the Russian Federation," Ukrainian adviser Mykhailo Podolyak said on Twitter. "This is impossible for military & political reasons. On the contrary, Israel urges Russia to assess the events more adequately."

On Friday, an unnamed Ukrainian senior government official harshly criticized Bennett's effort to mediate the crisis with Russia, saying that Bennett pressured Zelenskyy to accept Putin's conditions for ending the war. 

A senior Israeli official, who requested anonymity due to the sensitivity of the matter, called the report "patently false."

"At no point did Prime Minister Bennett advise President Zelenskiy to take a deal from Putin – because no such deal was offered to Israel for us to be able to do so," the official said."Bennett has at no point told Zelenskiy how to act, nor does he have any intention to."

The official said Friday that Bennett is "using the mediation as an excuse to justify the fact that Israel is avoiding transferring military aid to Ukraine or joining the sanctions slapped on Russia."

Last week, Bennett met with Putin in Moscow to discuss the Ukraine crisis, followed by a phone call with Zelenskyy.

The two leaders met for three hours. Less than 24 hours after their meeting in Moscow, Bennett and Putin spoke again by phone. According to a statement from the Prime Minister's Office, Bennett also spoke with German Chancellor Olaf Scholz and French President Emmanuel Macron following the phone call with Putin. 

The official went on to say that mediation does not mean passing messages between the sides, adding that a mediator needs to present a viable compromise, "to reach a result. Should this happen we'll be grateful. Other counties can provide mail services and Israel's natural stance" has no advantage under these circumstances.    

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