Israel’s Prime Minister Naftali Bennett in Russia for Ukraine talks with Putin

Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett met with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Moscow on Saturday.

Bennett departed Israel early Saturday morning for the trip, which was planned after he spoke with Putin on Wednesday about the war in Ukraine.

Building and Construction Minister Ze’ev Elkin, who has served as translator for prime ministers in meetings with Putin for over a decade, accompanied Bennett to Moscow.

In addition, National Security Adviser Eyal Hulata, Diplomatic Adviser Shimrit Meir and Spokesman Matan Sidi traveled with Bennett.

The meeting comes as Israel has been trying to balance the national security importance of coordination with Russia before airstrikes on Iranian targets in Syria, where the Russian Army is the dominant force, with Israel’s strongest strategic alliance with the US and support for democracy and international order.

Israel condemned Russia’s invasion of Ukraine through Foreign Minister Yair Lapid and a vote in the UN General Assembly, but Bennett has been reticent to say anything about Russia. In his recent statements he has expressed support for the Ukrainian people and called for negotiations.

Bennett spoke twice with Putin and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky since Russia invaded Ukraine. Zelensky has asked Bennett to try to mediate between the sides.

This is a developing story.

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