Putin tells Israel's Bennett that they are still ready to provide safe passage

Putin tells Israel’s Bennett that they are still ready to provide safe passage. 

In a phone chat with Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett on Thursday, Russian President Vladimir Putin emphasized that Russia was still willing to enable safe passage for civilians from the besieged Azovstal steel complex in the Ukrainian port of Mariupol, according to the Kremlin.

In a “thorough exchange of ideas on the situation in Ukraine,” Putin told Bennett that Kyiv should order Ukrainian fighters holed up in the massive Azovstal complex to lay down their arms.

Ukrainian defenders trapped at the site have been clinging to life for weeks. While some people have escaped through humanitarian corridors but others remain trapped inside.

The Kremlin has previously denied that Russian commandos were storming the plant, citing Putin’s directive on April 21 to seal it off but not enter its maze of underground tunnels.

The statement did not mention a major diplomatic spat that erupted earlier this week after Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov stated that Nazi dictator Adolf Hitler was Jewish in a televised interview. 

Israel denounced this as a terrible Holocaust lie and demanded an apology.

Looking ahead to the May 9 anniversary of Russia’s victory over the Nazis in World War II, the Kremlin said Putin and Bennett “emphasized the special significance of this date for the peoples of both countries, who carefully preserve the historical truth about the events of those years and honor the memory of all the fallen, including Holocaust victims.”