Zelensky has announced that he is abandoning his urge to join NATO, as Ukraine has not received much needed help from the West and Russian forces have moved too close to Kyiv. Russia, which is facing tough Western sanctions, has said it only wants to withdraw Ukrainian troops from the Donbass region.
Israeli officials have said that the ongoing ceasefire talks between Russia and Ukraine have reached a critical juncture. This statement by Israeli officials comes at a time when the country’s Prime Minister Naftali Bennett has spoken to Zelensky and Putin several times. It is being told that indirect talks between the President of Ukraine and Putin are being done only through Bennett.
In fact, Israel has very good relations with both Ukraine and Russia. That is why Israel is in a position to settle the differences between Russia and Ukraine.
Russia, Ukraine soften stance
Israeli officials who were directly involved in talks with Putin and Zelensky said both sides had softened in the past 24 hours. Russia has said it only wants to withdraw troops from the Donbass region.
Meanwhile, Zelensky has said that he is no longer pushing Ukraine to join NATO. Zelensky attacked NATO, saying that he does not want to be the president of a country that kneels before anyone and begs. Israeli officials said it was a sign that a diplomatic solution to the dispute could be found soon.
Earlier in the day, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu visited Moscow and met Putin. Since then, Bennett has spoken on the phone several times with Putin, Bennett, the French president and the German chancellor.
On Tuesday, Bennett spoke with Zelensky about the ongoing ceasefire efforts and gave his message to Putin over the phone. The Russian presidential office said Putin briefed Bennett about the third round of talks between Ukraine and Belarus in Belarus.
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Russia’s situation not too difficult for Zelensky
Israeli officials say Bennett has no plans to end the war, but is only trying to persuade Putin and Zelensky. During a meeting with Putin, Bennett briefed him on suggestions received from Ukraine and other countries to assess the Russian president’s response. It can also be assessed whether Putin is taking a flexible approach to his latest terms on the ceasefire. Bennett also told US President Joe Biden about the whole matter.
Israeli officials say it is not easy for Zelensky to accept Putin’s proposal, but not as harsh as he had previously predicted. He said Putin’s proposal did not include a change of government in Ukraine. Not only this, he is also in favor of giving its sovereignty to Ukraine.
An Israeli official said Zelensky is now at a crossroads where he must make a choice. Russia’s offer is difficult to accept, but it will preserve Ukraine’s sovereignty and end the war. If Zelensky declined this offer, the war would become more fierce, and would be disastrous for Zelensky and Ukraine itself. For the time being, Israel and the West have decided not to pressure Ukraine to make an alternative.
First published:March 9, 2022, 4:55 pm