Israel summons Ukraine envoy after accusation that Netanyahu government has 'clear pro-Russian position'

Israel summons Ukraine envoy after accusation that Netanyahu government has 'clear pro-Russian position'
Since the beginning of Russia's invasion of Ukraine in February 2022, Israel claims it maintains a position of neutrality. Now the Ukrainian ambassador to Israel has accused the far-right Netanyahu government of supporting Russia.
2 min read
27 June, 2023
Netanyahu has said any weapons systems that Israel gave to Ukraine could end up in the hands of Iran [Getty]

The Israeli foreign ministry said Tuesday it was summoning the Ukrainian ambassador for a "clarification," after the Ukrainian embassy accused "the current Israeli government" of "a clear pro-Russian position".

"In light of his repeated remarks against Israel's policy, Ukrainian ambassador Yevgen Korniychuk has been summoned for a clarification that will take place at the foreign ministry on July 3," a ministry statement said.

"The Israeli government continues to advance cooperation with Ukraine, as agreed between the countries," the statement said. "The ambassador's conduct is not helpful."

Israel has adopted a cautious approach since Russian forces invaded Ukraine in February last year, seeking to maintain neutrality between the warring sides.

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It has sent humanitarian aid to Ukraine during the conflict but stopped short of delivering weapons.

On Sunday, the Ukrainian embassy charged that "the current Israeli government" had "opted for a path of close cooperation with the Russian Federation".

It noted a "near absence of Israeli humanitarian assistance to Ukraine" and a recent statement by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu that Israel needed to cooperate with Russia to keep up its long-running air campaign against Iranian targets in Syria.

In an interview with the Jerusalem Post, Netanyahu also said that weaponry handed to Ukraine could fall into Iranian hands and be turned against Israel.

"The Israeli leadership, hiding behind verbal demagoguery about their neutrality (albeit no longer concealing it) actively forges relations with the Russian Federation," the Sunday statement said.

"In reality, on the ground, the so called 'neutrality' of the Israel government is a clear pro-Russian position," the Ukranian embassy added.

"We urge Israel government to change its position and to support Ukraine with defensive means, to support freedom and democratic world order."

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The embassy's statement, published on its social media platforms, came four days after Ukrainian Defence Minister Oleksii Reznikov had a "very productive call" with his Israeli counterpart Yoav Gallant.

"We discussed the current situation on the ground and the perspectives of a project to protect Ukrainians from aerial threats. Iranian drones pose a security threat to both of our countries. We count on Israel's assistance in countering it," Reznikov said in a statement.