In the early days of the Ukraine war, Russian President Vladimir Putin pledged not to kill Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, a prominent former Israeli leader says.
Naftali Bennett, who served as Israel's prime minister for one year until June, made a brief attempt to serve as mediator between the warring nations. He met with Putin in Moscow less than two weeks after Russia invaded Ukraine in February.
Bennett discussed the meeting during a five-hour interview with Israeli journalist Hanoch Daum.
"He gave me two great concessions," Bennett said. "I said, 'Do you intend to kill Zelenskyy?' He said, 'I won't kill Zelenskyy."
Putin also agreed not to demand that Ukraine disarm, Bennett said. He said he immediately relayed the information to Zelenskyy, who promised not to join NATO. Both sides have moved away from those positions.
Ukraine Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba dismissed Putin's pledge, tweeting that Putin has previously made promises not to occupy Crimea and not to invade Ukraine.
"Do not be fooled," Kuleba said of Putin. "He is an expert liar."
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►Vladimir Putin's ambitions do not end with the conquest of Ukraine, British Foreign Secretary James Cleverly warned. "He wants to upend world politics and call time on the international order," Cleverly said. "And if he succeeds, he will drag us all back to an age of violence and conquest.
►Kharkiv regional governor Oleh Syniehubov said four people were injured Sunday when a Russian S-300 missile fell near an apartment block in Kharkiv city, and another was hurt when a missile hit a university building.
►In the Black Sea port of Odesa, workers labored to connect temporary generators after the city was plunged into darkness following a large-scale network failure grid operator Ukrenergo blamed on equipment "repeatedly repaired" after Russian strikes.
Ukraine expects to get fighter jets from West
Western nations will probably grant Ukraine's request for warplanes soon, despite recent public rejections of the request from President Joe Biden and other world leaders, Ukraine's defense minister said Sunday. Oleksii Reznikov said Ukraine has already received everything from its "wish list to Santa," except planes.
"There will be planes, too," he said.
He said the planes are crucial if Ukraine is to repel a Russian offensive he predicted could begin around the war's one-year anniversary, Feb. 24. Biden, when asked at the White House on Monday whether his country would provide F-16s, answered "no." Britain also has rejected the request for planes.
Contributing: The Associate Press
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Ukraine Russia live updates: Putin once pledged not to kill Zelenskyy