Ukraine's Foreign Minister Refuses Calls From Lapid Over Israel's Position on Russia's Invasion

Israel's Foreign Minister Lapid has tried to schedule a call with his Ukrainian counterpart, who 'said he had been busy,' official says. Despite Kyiv's growing criticism of Israel's stance, a political source says the two are likely to speak soon

Jonathan Lis
Jonathan Lis
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Israeli Foreign Minister Yair Lapid speaks at the Knesset in Jerusalem, in February.
Israeli Foreign Minister Yair Lapid speaks at the Knesset in Jerusalem, in February.Credit: Emil Salman
Jonathan Lis
Jonathan Lis

Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba refused to hold a phone call with his Israeli counterpart Yair Lapid due to Israel's position on Ukraine's conflict with Russia, a Ukrainian government official said on Sunday.

According to the official, Lapid's bureau tried to plan a call, but that Kuleba has not yet agreed to do so. "He didn't say 'no,' he said that he had been busy," the source said. He added that the last phone call between the two foreign ministers took place three months ago, long before the Russian invasion.

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The official said that Lapid has not yet accepted an invitation to visit Kyiv, which was extended by Ukraine's deputy foreign minister about two weeks before the war.

An Israeli political source believes that the two will indeed speak in the coming days.

Lapid is the highest-ranking Israeli official to criticize the Russian invasion of Ukraine, and has done so at least four times in public declarations.

On Sunday, he took a more severe tone during a visit to Ukraine, saying that "Israel, like Romania, condemns the Russian invasion of Ukraine. It is unjustifiable, and we call on Russia to cease its fire and aggression and to solve its problems at the negotiating table."

Lapid's office said that "Israel has maintained constant communication with the government of Ukraine, and Foreign Minister Lapid has condemned Russia's invasion more than once."

Israeli officials said they were not surprised by Kuleba's shunning of Lapid, and see the Ukrainian foreign minister as one of the most critical voices in Kyiv of Israel's policy, including Prime Minister Naftali Bennett's mediation efforts, which peaked with a Kremlin meeting with Russian President Vladmir Putin.

Kuleba has also called out Israel for not joining Western sanctions on Ukraine and refusing to provide defense assistance to Ukraine.

Last week, the foreign minister apologized after mistakenly accusing Israel's flag carrier El Al of allowing its customers to make payments via a Russian banking system, which would have been in violation of Western sanctions.

He was not the only senior Ukrainian official to criticize Israel's policy. Defense Minister Alexey Reznikov, who represents Kyiv in cease-fire talks with Moscow, said Israel's vague position might harm trust with Ukraine, and called on Israeli leaders to speak out more clearly against Russia's invasion.

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