Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy criticized Israel’s lack of support for his country on Thursday, calling on Jerusalem to provide military aid and join international sanctions against Russia while questioning moves intended to deter refugees.
Addressing Hebrew University students via video link, Zelenskyy said that while he was “grateful to the people of Israel” for their “sincere and emotional support for Ukraine,” “we would also like to get support from your government.”
“I think it's only fair. For example, the small country of Luxembourg, with a population of about 600,000, provided us with defense support in the amount of 15 percent of their defense budget.” Other small nations in the neighboring Baltic region have also sent weapons and while it “wasn’t much” they’ve “given almost everything they had since the beginning of the Russian aggression,” he said.
Explaining that he understood that “it’s not a simple situation for you,” Zelenskyy said he would still “like to see more support.”
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Following intense pressure, Israel delivered 2,000 helmets and 500 protective vests to emergency and civilian organizations in Ukraine last month, but has not provided any military assistance despite repeated calls to do so.
Since the beginning of the war, Israel has taken great pains not to upset Russia, stating that its reticence to engage in a full-throated defense of Ukraine was necessary both for Israeli security interests and because Jerusalem needs to remain a credible intermediary between Kyiv and Moscow. And with the exception of condemning the killing of civilians in a Kyiv suburb as a war crime in April, Jerusalem has been largely silent on the conflict.
Taking credit for negotiating the end of the Russian siege of the last Ukrainian stronghold in Mariupol, Prime Minister Naftali Bennett told the New York Times earlier this week that “if one wants to continue to be effective you need to keep the communication channel open.”
And while Ukraine’s ambassador has called Israel’s role "more important than sales of weapons or munitions,” Zelenskky himself has brushed aside those concerns, demanding that Israel arm Ukraine that Israel arm Ukraine and remove limits on Ukrainian immigration imposed since the invasion.