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Ukraine opposes evacuation of Israeli citizens amid Russian war threats, warns of supply-chain disruption for Jewish state

Israel faces a lose-lose prospect in the event of a Russia-Ukraine war in diplomatic and economic ties

Israeli Foreign Minister Yair Lapid hosts Ukrainian Deputy Foreign Minister Emine Dzhaparova in Jerusalem, Feb. 13, 2022 (Photo: Twitter)

Ukraine’s Deputy Foreign Minister Emine Dzhaparova told the Israeli news outlet, Kan, that the Jewish state’s recent calls for evacuating Israeli citizens in Ukraine is causing unnecessary panic and damage to the Ukrainian economy. 

The Ukrainian deputy foreign minister, who recently met with Israeli Foreign Minister Yair Lapid in Jerusalem, warned on Monday that a Russian military escalation in Ukraine would have a direct negative impact on the Jewish state. 

“In case of an escalation, the State of Israel will be directly affected,” Dzhaparova said

Approximately 50% of Israel’s import of grains comes from Ukraine. This means that a potential war with Russia could mean significant disruptions of crucial grain supplies from Ukraine to Israel. 

“Cut your bread supply in half to understand how Israel will be affected,” warned the Ukrainian deputy foreign minister. 

A war between Ukraine and Russia could have a considerable implications for the Israeli tech industry. In recent years, Israel has made considerable investments in Ukraine and tech-savvy Ukrainians have played an important role in the Israeli high-tech sector. Ukrainian engineers are paid a fraction of what Israeli engineers earn.

Peter Kolomiets, a Russian-speaking Israeli computer programmer who currently resides in the Ukrainian city Kharkhov, described the tension. 

“When you see on TV, 100,000 Russian troops massing on the border, 30 minutes away from you, it’s very stressful,” Kolomiets told the Israeli Globes business site. 

While most Western nations are openly siding with Ukraine, Israel cannot afford to take sides in the Ukrainian-Russian conflict due to Jerusalem’s strong interests on both sides of the divide.

Israel needs to preserve stable political ties with a Russia in order to coordinate Russian and Israeli military operations in neighboring Syria. As the world’s only Jewish state, Israel also feels responsible to care for the wellbeing of the comparatively large Jewish communities in Ukraine as well as in Russia. 

Israel’s Russian-born Tourism Minister Yoel Razvozov articulated Jerusalem’s neutral position in a meeting with the Russian Ambassador to Israel Anatoly Viktorov. 

“Israel is not a party to the conflict. Like everyone, we want the situation to calm down,” Razovozov reportedly told the Russian ambassador, according to the Israeli news agency Kan. 

Israel’s neutral position in the Ukrainian-Russian position is also complicating Jerusalem’s relations with its closest ally Washington, which has become increasingly vocal against Russia. The Israeli news site Ynet reported on Tuesday that the Jewish state reportedly blocked an American attempt to transfer Iron Dome anti-missile defense system to Ukraine due to fear that it would undermine Israel’s complex relations with Russia. 

Ukraine reportedly was impressed with the Iron Dome’s capabilities during the latest Gaza war in May 2021 and urged American officials to convince Israel to agree to transfer the sophisticated system to the Ukrainian military. The Ukrainian government has asked Jerusalem directly to approve the transfer of the Iron Dome in recent months. But a military sale of this magnitude could provoke Russia to transfer more game-changing weapons to Israel’s adversaries in the Middle East, especially Iran and Syria. 

Ukraine’s Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba told Israeli media last week that Ukraine was interested in increasing its military cooperation with the Jewish state. 

“We are also interested in deepened defense cooperation on defense technology, in particular related to air defense,” stated Kuleba. 

Kuleba also recognized the fact that Israel is one of very few countries in the world that enjoys good relations with both Ukraine and Russia. The Ukrainian foreign minister consequently urged Jerusalem to play a diplomatic role in resolving the conflict between Ukraine and Russia. 

“We would welcome the effort of Israel to play a diplomatic role between Ukraine and Russia,” Kuleba told Israeli media. 

The All Israel News Staff is a team of journalists in Israel.

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