Israeli-Ukrainian Relations Sour Over UN Votes, Admission of Refugees
Diplomatic ties between Israel and Ukraine were looking increasingly strained on Tuesday as both nations accused the other of a lack of political solidarity.
Days after Israeli and several Ukrainian officials reacted with frustration to the vote of the Ukrainian mission to the UN in favor of an anti-Israel resolution last Friday, Ukraine criticized Israel for abstaining on a separate UN vote holding Russia legally responsible for the damage wrought in Ukraine since its troops invaded on Feb. 24.
Several Ukrainian media outlets pointed out that other states with historically close ties to Russian President Vladimir Putin’s regime, including Hungary and Turkey, had voted in favor of the resolution criticizing Russia, in contrast to Israel.
Ukraine is also angry with the Israeli government for placing new restrictions on the entry of Ukrainian refugees to Israel. On Tuesday, Ukraine’s envoy in Tel Aviv, Yevhen Korniychuk, told Israeli media outlets that he had been requesting a meeting with the Israeli foreign ministry for 10 days to discuss the problem. Asked whether he had been summoned by the ministry for a formal reprimand over last Friday’s UN vote, Korniychuk flatly denied this was the case. Responding to Israel’s claim that he had in fact been summoned, Korniychuk retorted, “they can say whatever they want.”
Separately, Ukrainian Defense Minister Oleksiy Reznikov spoke to his Israeli counterpart Benny Gantz on Tuesday. Although they did not divulge the contents of their conversation, Reznikov tweeted later that they had engaged in a “fruitful conversation.”
“We discussed the priority issues of bilateral cooperation in the defense sphere and the advantages of democracy,” Reznikov wrote.
The diplomatic spat between Jerusalem and Kyiv comes amid repeated efforts by the Ukrainians to persuade Israel to reverse its policy on not supplying Ukrainian forces with weaponry. Several Ukrainian political figures expressed concern that last Friday’s vote would make an Israeli change of heart less likely.
“Ukraine’s foreign ministry’s position was illogical and unacceptable,” Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky’s personal aide, Alexey Arestovych, said of the vote. “We’re teaming up with Russia and Iran who are attacking us, and distancing ourselves from Israel — which we want as an ally.”
A statement from Israel’s foreign ministry observed that Ukraine’s vote “does not reflect the relations between friendly states with shared values, especially in light of Israel’s support for Ukraine in various important UN decisions and extensive humanitarian aid.”
Meanwhile, Russian forces stepped up their offensive on Tuesday, raining missiles on Kyiv and other cities, and with NATO and US officials following up reports that two missiles landed in Poland, a NATO member. Two Polish citizens were reportedly killed in the attacks. Denouncing the “Russian missile attack on collective security,” Zelensky said that there had been “a very significant escalation. We must act.”