Israel is again at centerstage amid the ongoing Ukraine crisis. Prime Minister Naftali Bennett on Saturday departed for an unannounced visit to the Kremlin in Moscow to discuss the Ukraine war and the Iran nuclear negotiations with President Vladimir Putin.
Bennett and Putin reportedly met in private for three hours before the Israeli leader hopped back on his plane and headed to Berlin to further discuss matters with German Chancellor Olaf Scholz.
In between those meetings, Bennett also spoke by phone with Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky. Local reports indicate that Zelensky at first refused to receive Bennett’s call, apparently upset that Israel was leaning more toward Russia’s side in the war. Ukrainian officials have voiced disappointment that Israel has not joined the rest of the West in more firmly standing with their besieged nation.
It was notable that Bennett flew to Russia and Germany on Shabbat, something that Orthodox Jews like the prime minister usually avoid. An exception is made only in situations where human life is in danger, as it of course is in Ukraine.
Israel is in a unique position vis-à-vis both Russia and Ukraine, as it maintains critical strategic relations with both nations, and both nations continue to host large Jewish communities.