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Israeli PM meets President Putin to discuss Ukraine crisis

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Guwahati: Israel’s premier stepped into the role of mediator on Saturday as Russia’s invasion of Ukraine intensified, holding a three-hour meeting at the Kremlin with Vladimir Putin before calling Ukraine’s president and flying to Berlin.

While Israel, a close ally of the United States, has condemned the Russian invasion, voiced solidarity with Kyiv and sent humanitarian aid to Ukraine, it has said it will maintain communications with Moscow in the hope of helping to ease the crisis.

Israel is also mindful of Moscow’s military support for President Bashar al-Assad in next-door Syria, where Israel regularly attacks Iranian and Hezbollah military targets. Contacts with Moscow prevent Russian and Israeli forces trading fire by accident.

Prime Minister Naftali Bennett’s sit-down with Putin was the first by foreign leader since the day Russian forces invaded Ukraine last week, and came after Kyiv had asked Israel to launch a dialogue with Moscow.

Bennett has not joined Western leaders – notably key ally the United States – in forcefully condemning the invasion, instead stressing Israel’s strong relations with both Russia and Ukraine.

Bennett and Putin met for three hours, in a visit that was coordinated with the US, Germany and France, an Israeli official said.

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