Russian president, Israeli premier discuss Ukraine over phone

Putin, Bennett exchange views on Ukraine, preparations for May 9 celebrations.

Russian president, Israeli premier discuss Ukraine over phone

The Russian president and the Israeli prime minister discussed in a phone talk on Thursday the situation in Ukraine and the May 9 celebrations in their countries that mark the end of World War II. 

Vladimir Putin and Naftali Bennett spoke in favor of further development of bilateral ties and maintaining contacts, the Kremlin said in a statement.

The two leaders also exchanged views on the situation in Ukraine, paying particular attention to humanitarian aspects, including the evacuation of civilians from the Azovstal steel plant, carried out with the mediation of the UN and the International Committee of the Red Cross.

Putin stressed that the Russian military is ready to provide safe passage for the exit of civilians but added that the Ukrainian forces must lay their arms and surrender.

"On the eve of Victory Day in the Great Patriotic War, which is celebrated in Russia and Israel on May 9, Vladimir Putin and Naftali Bennett stressed the special significance of this date for the peoples of both countries, who cherish the historical truth about the events of those years and honor the memory of all the fallen, including the victims of the Holocaust," the statement said.

Putin recalled that some 40% of 6 million Jews that were tortured in ghettos and concentration camps and killed by the Nazis during punitive operations were citizens of the Soviet Union, and conveyed his wishes of health and well-being to veterans living in Israel.

Bennett, in turn, noted the decisive contribution of the Red Army to victory over Nazism, the statement also noted.