President Zelensky could turn to Naftali Bennett for reaching out to President Putin as both Russia and Israel have developed close cultural, economic, and military ties in the post-cold war landscape.
It is disheartening to note that Moscow and Kyiv have so far not succeeded in imposing a brief ceasefire and enabling civilians to evacuate the cities besieged by the Russian forces in Ukraine. Reliable reports indicate the crisis is worsening. Amid the ongoing war devastations in the region, over 1.5 million Ukrainian refugees have already fled off westward into the European Union.
The situation demands Russian President Vladimir Putin and his Ukrainian counterpart Volodymyr Zelensky to devise effective ways and a means to end the present crisis. Well-meaning observers say the Russia-Ukraine conflict can mainly be attributed to NATO's continuous eastward expansion and the indication of Ukraine's induction into it in the near future. Moscow sees in it an existential threat to Russia.
President Zelensky would do well to address Russia's legitimate security concerns. He could show statesmanship and reach out to Putin with credible guarantees that Kyiv would not be joining NATO in the foreseeable future. Zelensky could refrain from taking any action that might enrage Moscow into adopting more aggressive postures in the current war. Such a course of action on the part of Zelensky is likely to go a long way in defusing the current crisis.
President Zelensky ought to realise by now that Kyiv cannot take on Moscow on its own in an all-out war. It would be naïve to look towards the governments in Washington and allies for any solid military help in its war with Russia. NATO has already declined his plea to impose a no-fly zone over Ukraine to prevent Russia from launching any aerial strikes against his country.
The NATO response on the issue has followed President Putin's warning that Moscow would treat any third-party intervention in the conflict as a war against Russia. He has said explicitly that if anybody interferes in Ukraine, they will be met with a response that they've 'never had in [their] history.' He has also put Russia's nuclear forces on high alert. Washington and allies are highly unlikely to risk offending the Russian nuclear deterrence capability and inviting any disaster to themselves.
President Zelensky could turn to Jerusalem for reaching out to President Putin. Like New Delhi, Jerusalem has developed close cultural, economic, and military ties with Moscow in the post-cold war landscape. Kyiv should have no difficulty in using Jerusalem towards this end. It has had a great psychological-emotional linkage with Israel. Ukraine has the third-largest Jewish community in Europe and the fifth-largest in the world. The Jewish state has close to its heart the interests of the Jews the world over.
The good news is Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett met Russian President Putin in the Kremlin this Saturday (March 5, 2022) to discuss the Ukrainian crisis. Thereafter, Bennett talked to Ukrainian President Zelensky too. It is believed that, like his famous predecessors Ariel Sharon and Benjamin Netanyahu, Prime Minister Bennett has established close personal ties with President Putin.
(The author is a New Delhi-based journalist )