A senior adviser to Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan accused Ukraine's Volodymyr Zelenskyy of leading his own people to death in the fight against Russia's invasion, and said the Ukrainian president, who is Jewish, is supported by Israel and billionaire financier George Soros.
In a Sunday tweet, which comes just days before President Isaac Herzog's visit to Turkey as part of an effort to restore the two countries’ long-frayed relations, Yigit Bulut claimed Ukraine "and its people are being used up and thrown away."
Bulut is a former journalist who serves as a senior adviser to Erdogan for nearly a decade. Presenting what he claimed to be simply "the truth," he tweeted: "Let's talk about the fact that Soros-backed Zelenskyy, pushed by Israel, is leading the Ukrainian people to death."
Soros is a frequent subject of antisemitic conspiracy theories about Jews secretly controlling the world. His Open Society Foundation announced in 2018 that it would cease operations in Turkey after Erdogan accused its founder of trying to divide and destroy nations.
The organization said it was no longer possible to work in Turkey after it became the target of “baseless claims” in the media and a renewed investigation by Turkish authorities into mass protests against Erdogan’s government five years earlier.
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Israel and Turkey have both been vying for a role as mediators in the Russia-Ukraine conflict. Israel now publicly backs Ukraine, but maintains contact with Russia, including a recent Moscow meeting between Prime Minister Naftali Bennett and President Vladimir Putin.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and Ukrainian counterpart Dmytro Kuleba are due to meet at a forum in southern Turkey on Thursday, the first potential talks between the top diplomats since the conflict started.
Israel's President Herzog is set to meet Erdogan on Wednesday during a two-day visit to Turkey during which they are expected to discuss various bilateral issues involving the potential for expanding collaboration between their respective states. He will be the first Israeli leader to visit Turkey since 2008 and the first Israeli president since 2003.
Erdogan has been signaling his desire to restore relations with Israel since the inception of the Bennett-Lapid government and since entering office, Herzog has established a communications channel with Erdogan, and the two have spoken several times on the phone.
Zelenskyy, a Jewish Russophone comedian turned president, has become a symbol of Ukrainian resistance since Russian forces invaded his country in late February. He has refused to leave Kyiv, the capital, and has rallied the international community to Ukraine’s side with impassioned pleas for weapons and financial support.
Reuters contributed to this report.