Former Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett has spoken about meeting Russian President Vladimir Putin. Bennett says that shortly after the war began, Putin promised him that he would not have Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy killed.

At the start of the Ukraine war, Kremlin chief Vladimir Putin promised former Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett not to kill Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy. Speaking to an Israeli journalist, Bennett said Putin made that promise at mediation talks in Moscow last March.

Then-Israeli Prime Minister Bennett was the first Western leader to visit Putin in Moscow after the war began. He then traveled on to Berlin, where he consulted Chancellor Olaf Scholz (SPD) about the Ukraine conflict. Further mediation efforts between Russia and Ukraine followed, but were ultimately unsuccessful.

Bennett posted the conversation on his Facebook page on Saturday night. A leader’s life is most valuable in conflict, Bennett said. “I knew that Zelenskyj was in danger, he was in a bunker whose location was unknown.” After about three to four hours of the conversation, he asked the Russian President if he wanted to kill Zelenskyj. Putin said no. Bennett said he had asked Putin to give him his word: “He said: ‘I will not kill Zelenskyy’.”

After the meeting, he called Zelenskyj directly on the way from the Kremlin to the airport. “Listen, I’m coming from the conversation, he won’t kill you,” he said to Selenskyj at the time. Selenskyj asked if he was sure, and Bennett replied: “One hundred percent.” About two hours later, the Ukrainian President recorded a video from his office in which he assured that he was not afraid for his life.