Op-Ed: Israel’s Role in the Russia-Ukraine War | Yoel Ackerman

The last several days, Israel’s Prime Minister Naftali Bennett has spoken directly to both Russian President Vladimir Putin and Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky.

The question has become what Bennett seeks to achieve. It is a slippery slope either way as Ukraine has many Jewish citizens and their President himself is Jewish. Yet, Bennett needs the alliance of Russia to help with its covert operations in Syria to remove Iranian militias who seek to attack Israel.

Media outlets have yet to report on any specifics of these meetings. Bennett has made several calls to both leaders, most recently on Monday, speaking directly with Putin. Some have speculated that Bennett is seeking to establish an area in Ukraine where Israeli medics can come and assist the wounded people in Ukraine. Others have speculated that Bennett is seeking assurance from both Country leaders that there will be no aggression against Jews who seek to evacuate Ukraine. Already there have been several hundred Jewish citizens of Ukraine who have successfully fled the Country.

It is important to note however, that Bennett seems to be the only world leader who Putin is willing to speak to on multiple occasions since the Russian intrusion began. Putin won’t even pick up the phone for United States President Joe Biden. Some are speculating that Bennett is seeking a complete ceasefire and end to the war. As of Monday, it has been confirmed that Israel approved sending a field hospital to treat refugees in western Ukraine. It is expected to handle about 100 patients a day, according to Bennett’s office.

Until recently, Israel has yet to take a position on the international sanctions which were approved by many NATO Countries including the United States. That changed on Monday with a bombshell report that Israeli Foreign Minister Yair Lapid announced plans to not allow Russia to use Israel as a way to bypass the harsh International economic sanctions. Lapid also publicly condemned Putin’s invasion of Ukraine. Zelensky’s Chief of Staff also praised Israel’s efforts to negotiate a ceasefire.

Separately, Israel is grappling with a situation that involves dealing with dozens of Jewish Russian oligarchs who have taken on Israeli citizenship in recent years. It remains to be seen what if any will become of Bennett’s continued negotiations with both Countries,  but it does appear that the leader of Israel might be the only hope that Ukraine has in this conflict.


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