Moscow/Jerusalem, Feb 6 – Former Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett revealed that Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky’s defiant video announcing that he was “not hiding” and was “not afraid” of anyone came came after the then PM met Russian President Vladimir Putin and secured an assurance that Zelensky would not be targeted, media reports said on Sunday.
Bennett, who travelled to Moscow last March — soon after hostilities broke out between Russia and Ukraine, in a failed bid to broker a ceasefire, told Israel’s Channel 12 in an interview that he went on Zelensky’s request, RT reported.
With Russian forces around Kiev, Zelensky was reportedly hiding in an undisclosed location at the time of the meeting and according to Bennett, sought the Israeli leader secure an assurance of his safety from Putin.
Bennett says he asked Putin: “Are you going to kill Zelensky?” and when he denied it, again asked to him to give his word to have the Ukrainian President killed. Putin gave his word, he added.
The Israeli leader said that he called Zelensky immediately after leaving the Kremlin, telling him that Putin would not target him and Zelensky asked for confirmation, and Bennett told him that he was “100 per cent” sure.
Two hours later, Zelensky posted the defiant video from his office in Kiev, explaining that he was “not hiding”, and “not afraid of anyone”, revealing his location only after Bennett’s intervention to obtain an assurance of safety from the Russian President, RT reported.
Bennett also said that he had managed to make Russia and Ukraine reach a tentative agreement for a truce but Western powers, who were aware of his mission, had “blocked” it.