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March 11, 2022 11:47 am

Ukraine Ambassador Urges Israel to Step Up Support, Sanction Russia

avatar by Reuters and Algemeiner Staff

The Ukrainian Ambassador to Israel Yevgen Korniychuk speaks at a news conference, amid Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, at the Ukrainian Cultural Center in Tel Aviv, Israel, March 11, 2022. REUTERS/Corinna Kern

Ukraine’s ambassador urged Israel on Friday to step up its support for Ukraine by sanctioning Moscow, accepting more Ukrainian refugees and sending defense equipment.

Israel has condemned Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and sent humanitarian aid, but has maintained contacts with Moscow, with which it coordinates strikes in Syria and which has influence in international nuclear talks with Iran.

Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett met President Vladimir Putin in Moscow on March 5 and has also spoken several times with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky in an effort to mediate between the sides.

In a briefing, Ambassador Yevgen Korniychuk told reporters in Tel Aviv that Israel did not have “exclusivity” in the mediation process, adding: “Saying that ‘we are mediators, that’s why we have to be neutral to both parties’ — that’s not the name of the game.”

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“What we expect from Israel at the moment, the government, (is) to join the sanctions of their allies, including but not only the US and European Union,” he said, speaking in English.

“We do believe that the current war is a war of values,” Korniychuk said. “We hope that morally the decision will be taken by every single big business in Israel to stop collaboration with Russia.”

Zelensky, who is due to address Israel’s parliament at some point, “roughly understands the current position of the Israeli government” but not its reluctance to send defense equipment, Korniychuk added. Ukraine says it has asked Israel specifically for defensive weapons.

He said he had asked Israel to accept more refugees “without limitations” in a meeting with Interior Minister Ayelet Shaked this week.

Israel said on Tuesday it was ready to take in up to 5,000 Ukrainian refugees and allow 20,000 other Ukrainians who arrived prior to the fighting to remain temporarily.

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