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Zelenskyy wants Israel to choose sides with Ukraine instead of being a peace mediator with Russia

“Israel must meaningfully expand its support for Ukraine,” say Israeli lawmakers during visit

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy speaks during a press conference in Kyiv on Feb. 24, 2023, the first anniversary of Russia's invasion of Ukraine (Photo: Kyodo via Reuters Connect)

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said he prefers the Jewish state to side with his nation instead of serving in the role of mediator for peace with Russia.

Zelenskyy made this statement at a press conference on Friday to mark the anniversary of Russia’s invasion.  

“But I very much would like them not to be a mediator in this war, but to choose a side – the Ukrainian side,” said Zelenskyy.

Former Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett offered to negotiate peace between Ukraine and Russian President Vladimir Putin a mere few days after the war began. In addition, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu also offered to mediate in the Ukrainian-Russian conflict if both sides accept him as a mediator.

Unlike most Western democracies, Israel has refrained from siding completely with Ukraine against Russia due to Jerusalem’s complex security coordination ties with Moscow in Syria. In the past, Ukraine has expressed its frustration with Israel’s unwillingness to provide military assistance to Ukraine.

During a recent visit to the war-torn nation, two Ukrainian-born Israeli lawmakers urged Israel to increase its support for Ukraine and provide the Jewish state’s advanced missile defense system to the Ukrainian military.

“Israel must meaningfully expand its support for Ukraine,” stated Israeli lawmakers Yuli Edelstein and Ze’ev Elkin following their meeting with Zelenskyy.

“We support tangible cooperation between Israel and Ukraine in air defense and missile defense and in more defensive measures,” they added.

However, Russia has repeatedly warned Israel against supplying advanced weapons to Ukraine. In October 2022, former Russian President Dmitry Medvedev, a close ally of Putin, warned the Jewish state that Russian-Israeli ties would be ruined if Israel provided weapons to Ukraine.

“Israel appears to be getting ready to supply weapons to the Kyiv regime,” said Medvedev.

“A very reckless move. It would destroy all bilateral relations between our countries,” he warned.

Jerusalem has so far provided $22.5 million in humanitarian aid to Ukraine. In addition, Israeli Foreign Minister Eli Cohen recently announced $200 million in loan guarantees to the Ukrainian government.

Like much of the West, Ukraine and Israel are concerned about the growing military cooperation between Russia and Iran. The ayatollah regime has supplied Russia’s military with lethal drones that are being used against Ukrainian civilians.

Zelenskyy declined to elaborate how Israel is assisting Ukraine to address the Russian-Iranian military cooperation, stressing he did not want to “jeopardize the improvement of Ukraine-Israel relations that has begun.”

The Ukrainian president further noted that the Israeli public had been supporting Ukraine like most of the Western world, but he stressed the need to secure support from the Israeli government.

“For a long time during this war, I’ve really been eager for Israeli support, not just from the public — because there’s a lot of support there — but also from its political leadership,” said Zelenskyy.

“Historically, Ukraine has had excellent relations with Israel,” he added.

While articulating Ukraine’s frustration with Israel’s policy of neutrality in the Ukrainian-Russian conflict, Zelenskyy admitted that the Jewish state needed to maintain its complex security ties with Moscow in Syria, a country where the Israeli Air Force regularly strikes Iranian targets in close proximity to Russian forces.

“It has been difficult to change their position because Israel has a complex situation regarding its relations with Russia, Iran, Syria, etc.”

Zelenskyy said he believes Jerusalem is interested in a peaceful resolution of the Ukrainian-Russian conflict stating that “Israel is a country that for dozens of years had war,” since it was established in 1948 and, therefore, he “cannot imagine Israel supporting war.”

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

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