MOSCOW/JERUSALEM (Reuters) – Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett, who has proposed Israeli mediation between Russia and Ukraine, spoke with the leaders of both countries on Wednesday.
The first call was with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy. Zelenskiy said on Twitter they spoke about “Russian aggression.”
The Kremlin later put out a statement that Bennett initiated a call with Russian President Vladimir Putin. Putin, the Kremlin said, told Bennett that taking into account Moscow’s security interests was among the key conditions for settling the conflict.
Israel has good ties with both Moscow and Kyiv. While it voted with a sweeping majority at the U.N. General Assembly on Wednesday to reprimand Russia for invading Ukraine, Bennett’s rhetoric has been circumspect.
At Kyiv’s behest, Bennett offered for Israel to mediate peace talks. He has also voiced solidarity with Ukraine and sent it humanitarian relief.
Officials in Bennett’s office confirmed the calls but offered no other details.
“The different players want us in a place that we are able to hold a dialogue with everyone,” Bennett said in an interview aired on Wednesday on Israel’s Channel 13.
Israel is keen to keep rank with its U.S. ally on the crisis. But it is also mindful of Moscow’s military sway in next-door Syria, where Israel regularly strikes Iranian targets. Israeli-Russian contacts prevent them trading fire by accident.
(Reporting by Reuters; Editing by Toby Chopra)