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Tipsheet

Hope on the Horizon? There May Be Progress in Peace Talks Between Russia and Ukraine, with Help from Israel

Russian Presidential Press Service and Ukrainian Presidential Press Office via AP

Vladimir Putin's Russian invasion of Ukraine has not been going his way. Earlier on Saturday, Matt highlighted how Russian troops are facing extreme losses. As a result, Putin seems that much more willing to turn to tactics that amount to war crimes in the way he's carried them out. Earlier this week, a maternity ward and children's hospital was targeted in Mariupol. The State Department indicated soon after that they're seeing "very credible reports of deliberate attacks on civilians." 

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The Russians have also taken to capturing Mayor Ivan Fedorov of Melitopol, as Landon covered, whom they are reportedly torturing. 

A Fox News report from Caitlin McFall quoted Zelensky when it comes to efforts to free the mayor. "We address all the world leaders that talk to Moscow: France, Germany, Israel and others," Zelensky said in an address. "I personally called the Chancellor of Germany Sholtz and talked to him as well as to Macron. I'll talk to whoever I need to talk to in order for our people to be freed," he added, urging top nations to use their global standing to "influence this situation."

Zelensky has also tweeted updates, about speaking with Germany and France.

As well as Israel's Prime Minister Naftali Bennett. These talks are particularly crucial, as Prime Minister Bennett has been helping bring about negotiations for a ceasefire. Previous ceasefires with Russia, aimed at allowing humanitarian assistance to come through as well as for civilians to escape dangerous conditions, have failed with Russian troops breaking the ceasefire.

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A report from the Times of Israel noted that the conversation between Bennett and Zekensky lasted more than an hour and "dealt with ways to end the fighting in Ukraine and the efforts that Israel is making on this matter," quoting the prime minister's office. 

As the report further indicated:

The call came after Zelensky said earlier that he’d proposed to Bennett that Jerusalem host ceasefire talks between Ukraine and Russia, and asserted that Israel could play an “important role” in the efforts to end the war.

Channel 12 cited unnamed Israeli government sources as saying Russian President Vladimir Putin was considering the proposal but “it’s premature to assess its chances.”

The two leaders have spoken multiple times since Moscow’s troops invaded the country. Bennett had also spoken several times with Putin and last Saturday traveled to the Kremlin to meet him, the first leader to do so since Russia’s invasion began. 

Details of Israel’s mediation efforts have remained obscure. Saturday saw a top adviser to Zelensky deny a report that Israel had pushed the Ukrainian leader to accept an offer from Putin that would see Kyiv make significant concessions to end Russia’s invasion. 

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In order to maintain good relations with both Russia and Ukraine, Israel has not yet taken a side, which makes it a fitting country to help with negotiations. "Israeli officials have indicated that Jerusalem has not taken a position, nor has it brought forward a proposal for a ceasefire. Rather, they assert that Bennett’s role has been clarifying the sides’ positions to each other and to other global players, thanks to Israel’s good relations with both nations," the report also mentioned.

A separate Time of Israel report from Friday indicated that Israel is weighing Ukraine's repeated requests for military equipment.

A Reuters report from Saturday, citing both Ukrainian and Israeli officials, including a tweet from Ukrainian adviser Mykhailo Podolyak, indicated that reports claiming Bennett told Ukraine to give into Russia are not true, with one Israeli official calling it "patently false."

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