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October 4, 2022 2:52 pm

‘There Is No Russian Lobby in Israel’: Israeli Ambassador to Kyiv Responds to Ukrainian Criticism

avatar by Ben Cohen

A building destroyed by Russian artillery in the Ukrainian city of Lysychansk. Photo: Reuters/Alexander Ermochenko

Israel’s envoy to Ukraine has said that he was “personally hurt” by the criticisms of the Jewish state’s reluctance to supply the government in Kyiv with weaponry to counter the Russian invasion.

In an extensive interview with the RBC news agency, Michael Brodsky — Israel’s Ambassador in Kyiv — argued that Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky’s complaint against Israeli policy was unjustified. In late September, Zelensky had expressed frustration with Israel in a media interview, saying: “I don’t know what happened to Israel. I’m honestly, frankly – I am in shock, because I don’t understand why they couldn’t give us air defenses.”

According to Brodsky, “since the first day of the war, I personally and my colleagues have been deeply involved in Israel’s efforts to help Ukraine.” However, he continued, the aid effort had primarily been on the humanitarian front. “In this sense, Israel provides enormous assistance to Ukraine,” Brodsky insisted. “On some issues even more so than other countries, for example, in the matter of psychological assistance.”

Brodsky said that over the years, Israel had built up a significant reservoir of methods to help individuals deal with the mental health traumas caused by armed conflict. “Our country has a unique experience of what to do with people who are in a situation of post-trauma caused by war, terror, and a constant threat to security,” he said. “Israel has been actively sharing this experience literally since the first day of the war. And the Office of the President knows this.”

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Brodsky also addressed the claim in Ukraine that a deep-rooted “Russian Lobby” in Israel was steering Jerusalem towards Moscow.

“Rumors about a powerful Russian lobby in Israel are greatly exaggerated. There is no Russian lobby in Israel,” Brodsky said. “There are the interests of Israel and there is concern for the safety of both Israeli citizens and the military — the Israel Defense Forces.”

Brodsky explained that Israel’s “red lines” in Ukraine were determined by events in its own region of the world.

“Israel actively helps Ukraine, but without crossing red lines,” he said. “Israel is essentially sitting on top of a powder keg… Therefore, Israel needs to act very carefully and consider its own security interests first.”

Noting that Russia “plays a significant role in the Middle East,” Brodsky emphasized that Israel had to tread carefully with President Vladimir Putin’s regime, given its ties to Iran and the Iranian regime’s own nuclear ambitions.

“We are also discussing the Iranian issue with Russia,” the envoy said. “Any careless step on our part could damage that dialogue, cause damage that, in turn, would damage Israel’s security. No Israeli government will take such a step because it understands the full responsibility it will have to bear.”

Brodsky also talked about his perspective on the conflict as someone who was born in the Russian city of Leningrad — now St. Petersburg — and who previously served at the Israeli Embassy in Moscow.

“As an individual, I treat both the Ukrainian people and the Russian people as equals,” said Brodsky. “But in this situation, my sympathies are definitely on the side of Ukraine. I wish for Ukraine to end this war as soon as possible and to remain as an independent, democratic, strong and prosperous state.”

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