Ukrainian leaders on Sunday called Russian President Vladimir Putin’s pledge not to kill Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy a “lie”.
Naftali Bennett, whose brief run as Israeli prime minister ended in June, met Putin in Moscow less than two weeks after Russia’s February invasion, trying to negotiate an end to hostilities.
“He gave me two big concessions,” Bennett said in an interview with Israeli journalist Hanoch Daum published Saturday night. “I said, ‘Do you intend to kill Zelenskyy?’ He said: “I will not kill Zelenskyy.”
Putin also agreed not to demand that Ukraine disarm, Bennett said. He said he immediately passed the information on to Zelenskyy, who promised not to join NATO. Both parties have moved away from these positions.
Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba rejected Putin’s promise, Tweeter that Putin has already promised not to occupy Crimea and not to invade Ukraine.
“Don’t be fooled,” Kuleba said of Putin. “He’s an expert liar.”
Zelenskyy’s adviser Mykhailo Podoliak also dismissed the claims, tweeting that the Russian invasion “is not about NATO expansion, security guarantees or sanctions, it’s (Russia’s) desire. to destroy and kill the Ukrainians”.
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- Vladimir Putin’s ambitions do not stop at conquering Ukraine, British Foreign Secretary James Cleverly has warned. “He wants to upset world politics and put an end to the international order,” Cleverly said. “And if he succeeds, he will take us all back to a time of violence and conquest.
- Kharkiv Regional Governor Oleh Syniehubov said four people were injured on Sunday when a Russian S-300 missile fell near a building in the city of Kharkiv, and another was injured when a missile hit a university building.
- In the Black Sea port of Odessa, workers worked hard to connect temporary generators after the city was plunged into darkness following a large-scale grid outage.
Russia is gaining ground near the crucial town of Bakhmut
Over the past week, Russia has made “small” progress in its attempt to encircle the crucial town of Bakhmut in Donbass, the British Ministry of Defense said in its latest Record of the war. The two main access routes into the city for the Ukrainian defenders are now both likely to be threatened by direct fire, according to the assessment. Earlier in the week, Russian paramilitary forces “most likely” seized a subordinate road linking Bakhmut to the town of Siversk.
“While several alternative supply routes across the country remain available to Ukrainian forces, Bakhmut is increasingly isolated,” the assessment said.
Bakhmut is seen as an important link in the supply line for both sides seeking control of the city of 75,000. Unhindered access would be key to gaining control of the Donetsk region, which Russia has claimed to annex but has so far been unable to fully occupy. Russia controls almost all of the neighboring city of Luhansk, which together with Donetsk constitutes the industrial region of Donbass. Putin has repeatedly declared it to be the main objective of the war.
Ukraine expects to receive fighter jets from the West
Western countries will likely soon grant Ukraine’s request for fighter jets, despite recent public rejections of the request by President Joe Biden and other world leaders, Ukraine’s Defense Minister said on Sunday. Oleksii Reznikov said Ukraine had already received everything on its “Santa’s wish list” except for planes.
“There will also be planes,” he said.
He said the planes are crucial if Ukraine is to repel a Russian offensive which he said could begin around the first anniversary of the war, February 24. Biden, when asked Monday at the White House if his country would provide F-16s, said “no.” Britain also rejected the request for planes.
Contributor: The Associate Press