Taking Out Zelensky
Kremlin refuses to confirm or deny former Israeli PM’s remarks that the Russian President promised not to kill Zelensky in private talks
Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov has refused to confirm or deny an allegation that President Vladimir Putin promised not to assassinate his Ukrainian counterpart, Vladimir Zelensky. Peskov said Moscow did not wish to reveal details concerning sensitive conversations with foreign leaders.
On Saturday, former Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett stated in an interview that during his meeting with Putin last March, the Russian leader repeatedly reassured him and gave his word that Zelensky would not be “killed” or “eliminated.”
Asked to respond to this claim on Monday, Peskov confirmed that the two leaders held “a very intensive dialogue” and “frequently communicated” during Bennett’s tenure as PM. However, the spokesman refused to share confidential information.
“Indeed, on the agenda, in addition to bilateral relations, was the topic of Ukraine,” Peskov told journalists. “But you know that we are not in favor of disclosing the details of the talks between heads of state. We do not want to do this now. Therefore, I will neither refute nor confirm what Mr. Bennett said.”
Bennet traveled to Moscow as Israeli PM last March, in a failed bid to broker an early ceasefire between Russia and Ukraine, he told Israel’s Channel 12 on Saturday.
With Russian forces surrounding Kiev, Zelensky was reportedly hiding in an undisclosed location at the time of the meeting. Bennett told the channel that the Ukrainian leader had tasked him with securing an assurance from Putin that he would not be targeted for assassination.
“Are you going to kill Zelensky?” Bennett asked Putin. The Russian president said that he would not, to which Bennett again asked for his word that he wouldn’t have the Ukrainian president killed. Putin gave his word, Bennett said.
Bennett said that he called Zelensky immediately after leaving the Kremlin, telling him “he’s not going to kill you.” Zelensky asked for confirmation, and Bennett told him that he was “one hundred percent” sure that Putin would not have him eliminated.
Two hours later, Zelensky posted a video from his office in Kiev, explaining that he was “not hiding,” and “not afraid of anyone.” The video address was described as “defiant” by Western media outlets, but it was unknown until now that Zelensky essentially asked Putin permission – via Bennett – to reveal his location before making his statement.
Bennett described Putin as “smart and sharp,” and a supporter of the Jewish people. However, he said that the Russian leader’s demeanor became cold when Zelensky and his officials were mentioned, with Putin describing them as “Nazis”and “warmongers.”
The former PM – who shared office with Yair Lapid until stalwart conservative Benjamin Netanyahu returned to power in December – said that “everything” he did on his trip to Moscow was “coordinated with the United States, Germany and France.”
Bennett’s interview came a day after French Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Anne-Claire Legendre confirmed that President Emmanuel Macron “mainly” spoke to Putin by phone at the request of Zelensky. Meanwhile, as the leaders of France and Israel carried his messages to Moscow, Zelensky himself publicly declared that he would never talk to Putin, and forbade his officials from engaging in any negotiations with the Russian leader.
Source Israel Channel 12/RT