By Anthony Marcus, special correspondent in Kyiv, for Eurasia Business News – February 26, 2022
Volodymyr Zelensky asked Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett to mediate in negotiations with Russia, reported several media sources on February 25. Unnamed officials in Kyiv confirmed it.
During his phone conversation with Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett on Friday morning, Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky asked that Jerusalem serve as a mediator with Russia to help resolve the military conflict between the countries.
Advisor to the head of Zelensky’s office, Mikhail Podolyak, did not rule out discussing the neutral status of Ukraine with a “clear package of security guarantees.”
Zelensky has previously expressed readiness for negotiations. Press Secretary of the President of Russia Dmitry Peskov suggested holding a meeting of the delegations of the two countries in Minsk. However, later it became known that Kyiv abandoned the idea of negotiations in Minsk, choosing Warsaw instead. Then the Ukrainian side would have cut off the communication, according to Peskov. At the same time, Ukrainian armed forces have deployed multiple launch rocket systems in residential areas in Kyiv in an attempt to defend the capital against Russian troops.
Ukrainian officials may be more comfortable holding negotiation talks in Jerusalem than in Russia’s ally nation Belarus, where Moscow had proposed to negotiate. Israel is seen as a more neutral party.
So far we don’t know what the Naftali Bennett’s response was, and the Israeli Prime Minister’s Office declined to comment.
“These are difficult, tragic times,” said the Prime minister of Israel on Thursday. “Our hearts are with the civilians of eastern Ukraine who were caught up in this situation.”
Russia launched a military operation early in the morning of February 24, with the official goal to “demilitarize Ukraine”, remove the Ukrainian government and protect the right of Russian leaving in Eastern Ukraine. In a televised address to the Russians, President Vladimir Putin said that circumstances “require decisive and immediate action from us, the people’s republics of Donbass have asked for help.”
On February 25 morning the President of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelensky sent a message to the Russian President Vladimir Putin with a proposal to sit down at the negotiating table to end Russian hostilities in Ukraine. President Zelensky has now moved to a bunker, as Russian military is approaching the presidential building.
After the Russian recognition of the separatist republics of Donetsk and Luhansk on February 21 and the entry of Russian troops in the Ukrainian territory in early morning on February 24, the United States and European countries have imposed massive sanctions against Russian state-owned banks, banned technology exports to Russia, denied access to Russia to the US financial market and imposed individual sanctions on Russian officials and their relatives. The European Union has even taken sanctions against the Russian President Vladimir Putin and the Russian Minister of Foreign Affairs, Sergey Lavrov.
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