News of his meeting emerging as Shabbat comes to an end at sundown

Nicole Jansezian | March 5, 2022


Israeli PM Bennett meeting with Russian President Putin in October 2021. (Photo: Koby Gideon, GPO)

Updated at 7:25 p.m.

Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett flew to Moscow to meet with Russian President Vladimir Putin today – a secret trip and rare flight on a Sabbath for any Israeli leader, let alone one who is religiously observant. The meeting was apparently at the behest of Putin and with the cooperation of the United States, Israel’s Channel 12 reported. The Israeli delegation met their Russian counterparts at the Kremlin. Bennett is the first world leader to meet with Putin since the Russian army invaded Ukraine 10 days ago, creating a massive humanitarian crisis and bringing the world to the brink of a possible third World War.

Since the war began, Bennett has held phone calls each with both Putin and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy and has even offered to host talks for both sides to reach a ceasefire. Israel has navigated a very careful diplomatic path between the two sides – with both of whom Israel maintains friendly relations – delaying a condemnation of Russia’s action until voting to do so at the United Nations on Wednesday. Housing Minister Zeev Elkin, who was born in the Former Soviet Union and is also an observant Jew, flew with the prime minister to act as a translator. Elkin was born in Kharkiv, which is in Ukraine.

In October, Bennett – who was sworn in as prime minister in June – held his first face-to-face meeting with Putin in the Russian city of Sochi. Israel is concerned with maintaining a status quo with the Russian military in Syria where the Jewish state frequently conducts clandestine sorties against Iranian targets.