Senior U.S. Official Warns Israel: Don't Be Last Haven for Dirty Money Fueling Putin's Wars

The Biden administration is welcoming Israeli mediation efforts, but insisted Israel join the growing list of 'democracies' sanctioning Russia over its brutal invasion of Ukraine

Ben Samuels
Ben Samuels
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Russian President Vladimir Putin attends a meeting with Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko at the Kremlin in Moscow, Russia, on Friday.
Russian President Vladimir Putin attends a meeting with Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko at the Kremlin in Moscow, Russia, on Friday.Credit: SPUTNIK/ REUTERS
Ben Samuels
Ben Samuels

WASHINGTON – A senior Biden administration official publicly urged Israel on Friday to join the rest of the Western world in sanctioning Russia over its invasion of Ukraine, in perhaps the most direct official remark from the U.S. relating to Israel's stance on the war ravaging Eastern Europe.

U.S. Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs Victoria Nuland told Israel's Channel 12 News that "We're asking, among other things, for every democracy around the world to join us in the financial and export control sanctions that we have put on Putin. We have to squeeze the regime. We have to deny it the income that it needs, squeeze the oligarchs around him, we squeeze its economy."

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"So in that context, we're asking as many countries as we can to join us. We're asking that of Israel as well. Among other things, you don't want to become the last haven for dirty money that's fueling Putin's wars," she added.

Nuland stressed that Israel joining the financial sanctions is more important to the U.S. than Israel potentially providing military aid to Ukraine. "That's a sovereign decision for Israel to make. Many, many democracies around the world are stepping outside of their comfort zone to supply security and military support to Ukraine. But what's most important from our point of view right now is to join the financial sanctions," she said.

Concerning ongoing Israeli efforts to mediate between Russia and Ukraine, Nuland said they are part of any "welcomed" effort to get Putin to "be a civilized human being and to negotiate in good faith and to get his forces out of Ukraine."

"Unfortunately to date, Putin's demands are maximalist — he is essentially asking for the capitulation of Ukraine, and they are not planning on capitulating anytime soon. And it is Putin's military that's being ground down. So we welcome all efforts of diplomacy," she continued.

Nuland added that "the fact that Israel has had in the past a strong relationship with the Kremlin, we're grateful that the prime minister was willing to use that and continues to be willing to use it to try to get this war to end. Unfortunately, President Putin doesn't appear to be listening."

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