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6 Feb, 2023 14:36

Kremlin reacts to ‘Zelensky elimination’ comment

Moscow has neither confirmed nor denied a claim by Israel's former PM that Putin promised not to kill the Ukrainian leader
Kremlin reacts to ‘Zelensky elimination’ comment

Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov has refused to confirm or deny an allegation that President Vladimir Putin promised not to assassinate his Ukrainian counterpart, Vladimir Zelensky. Peskov said Moscow did not wish to reveal details concerning sensitive conversations with foreign leaders.

On Saturday, former Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett stated in an interview that during his meeting with Putin last March, the Russian leader repeatedly reassured him and gave his word that Zelensky would not be “killed” or “eliminated.”

Asked to respond to this claim on Monday, Peskov confirmed that the two leaders held “a very intensive dialogue” and “frequently communicated” during Bennett’s tenure as PM. However, the spokesman refused to share confidential information.

“Indeed, on the agenda, in addition to bilateral relations, was the topic of Ukraine,” Peskov told journalists. “But you know that we are not in favor of disclosing the details of the talks between heads of state. We do not want to do this now. Therefore, I will neither refute nor confirm what Mr. Bennett said.”

The then-PM traveled to meet with Putin in the early phases of Moscow’s military operation against Kiev, which was launched in late February. Bennett had hoped to broker an early ceasefire between the two sides as Russian forces were encroaching on the Ukrainian capital. At that point, Zelensky was reportedly in an undisclosed location and had allegedly asked Bennett to secure assurance from Putin that he would not be targeted for assassination.

Bennett said he called Zelensky immediately after leaving the talks with Putin, telling him he would not be killed. Two hours later, the Ukrainian leader posted a video from his office in Kiev, explaining that he was “not hiding,” and “not afraid of anyone.”