Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy on Thursday criticized Israel for not imposing sanctions on Russia during a video conference address to students at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem.
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“The imposition of sanctions on Russia is a matter of values. Many European countries are on our side against Russian aggression, but unfortunately we don’t see Israel joining the sanctions,” Mr Zelensky said in a speech in Ukrainian, which was translated into English.
Speaking from his office in Kyiv, the Ukrainian President said he was “grateful to the Israeli people” for their support, adding that “we would have liked to have received your government’s support”.
At the invitation of the Israeli parliament in March to speak via video conference with elected Israeli officials, Mr. Zelensky had urged Israel to “make a choice” and support his country by arming it, even its missile defense system. .
“How not to help the victims of such (Russian) aggression? I am often asked how did Israel help? and what else can Israel do, but I don’t know what to answer,” Zelenskyy said on Thursday.
The Jewish state took a cautious stance after the Russian invasion of Ukraine, arguing special ties to both countries. In addition, Israel has over a million citizens from the former Soviet Union.
Mr Zelensky played the card on historic ties between Israel and Ukraine on Thursday, saying that former Israeli Prime Minister Golda Meir’s childhood home is “five minutes” from the offices of the Ukrainian presidency.
“Please consider how intertwined our stories are, how close our relationship is, and ask yourself how high the level of understanding should be between us (…) Why is there a miscommunication, a misunderstanding with your government officials? I don’t know,” he told the students.
Since Russia began invading Ukraine on February 24, officials say more than 30,000 Ukrainians have fled to Israel, many benefiting from the “Law of Return,” which grants Jews, children or grandchildren of Jews the right to return to Israel to obtain citizenship.
In addition, the Israeli Foreign Ministry confirmed to AFP in recent days that its embassy in Kyiv, which was closed for security reasons at the beginning of the conflict, has reopened.