Ukraine lectures Israel on ‘Russian invasion’
Israel’s top diplomat questioned whether Russia intends to invade Ukraine, angering Kiev’s envoy
Ukraine’s ambassador to Israel was summoned for reprimand after penning an outraged Facebook post in response to Tel Aviv’s Foreign Minister Yair Lapid, who challenged assertions that Russia is planning an imminent large-scale attack on its neighbor.
Speaking to Axios on Wednesday, Lapid argued that Israel does not “see a violent confrontation” between Moscow and Kiev anytime soon, rejecting the notion that a “world war” would erupt from rising tensions between the two countries.
“We have a duty to act with caution about the Russia-Ukraine crisis that no other country has,” Lapid continued, explaining that both nations contain large Jewish populations while also voicing concerns that the standoff could distract from nuclear talks with Iran.
Within a day, Lapid drew an enraged reply from Ukraine’s Ambassador to Israel Yevgen Korniychuk. Writing on Facebook, in English, the envoy said he was “deeply appalled” by the remarks and accused the minister of spreading “Russian propaganda.”
“I would like to remind Mr. Minister that it is not a conflict – it is a WAR that Russia aggressively and cynically conducts against Ukraine,” Korniychuk wrote. “It is a shame that Mr. Lapid has not noticed the war in the center of Europe which [has lasted] for eight years already.”
The post was apparently not received well by Tel Aviv, with the Israeli Foreign Ministry reportedly summoning the Ukrainian envoy for a “dressing down” from Gary Koren, who serves as deputy director-general for the Eurasia and Western Balkans division.
Though Korniychuk claimed Lapid had ignored “disturbing” predictions from Washington, London and the European Union regarding a Russian invasion – citing troop movements near the border with Ukraine – those forecasts are also sharply at odds with less dire rhetoric coming from Ukraine’s president and military.
Last week, President Volodymyr Zelensky said his government had not seen “any greater escalation than it [did] before,” downplaying “panic” spread by Western officials and media reports. Ukraine’s Defense Minister Alexey Reznikov has argued much the same, noting that “panic and fear are the most clickable” while questioning Moscow’s ability to invade with the forces currently stationed along the border.
Nonetheless, US President Joe Biden has already moved ahead with a “lethal aid” package for Ukrainian forces, authorizing $200 million in anti-armor weapons, grenade launchers, artillery and small arms in December, while the UK has provided “defensive weapons” and light arms of its own.