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Russia-Ukraine War 2022-23

Cohen: Israel backs Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity

Jerusalem’s top diplomat is on a solidarity visit to Kyiv ahead of the first anniversary of Russia’s invasion.

Foreign Minister Eli Cohen (left) meets with his Ukrainian counterpart Dmytro Kuleba in Kyiv, Feb. 16, 2023. Credit: Israeli Foreign Ministry.
Foreign Minister Eli Cohen (left) meets with his Ukrainian counterpart Dmytro Kuleba in Kyiv, Feb. 16, 2023. Credit: Israeli Foreign Ministry.

Israel supports the continued sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine and will help the nation develop an early warning defense system, Foreign Minister Eli Cohen said on Thursday.

He also said Jerusalem would provide Kyiv with up to $200 million in loan guarantees for humanitarian purposes.

Cohen arrived in the Ukrainian capital earlier in the day for a solidarity visit ahead of the first anniversary of Russia’s invasion of the country.

Speaking after a meeting with his Ukrainian counterpart Dmytro Kuleba, Cohen reiterated that Jerusalem stands firmly with the Ukrainian people “and remains committed to the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine.”

Kuleba said the “frank talks” focused on “ways to enhance bilateral relations, increase assistance and address shared security challenges.”

Cohen is slated to have a sit-down meeting with President Volodymyr Zelenskyy before attending a ceremony for the permanent reopening of the Israeli embassy in the Ukrainian capital.

Cohen is the first Israeli minister to travel to the war-torn country since the conflict erupted on Feb. 24, 2022.

He arrived in Kyiv by overnight train from neighboring Poland. Due to security concerns, the trip was not announced until Thursday morning when he reached Bucha, the site of alleged Russian atrocities.

“It is impossible to remain indifferent in the face of the terrible sights and horror stories that I have heard and been exposed to here. Israel condemns any intentional harm to innocent people,” said Cohen.

He also toured Babyn Yar, where the Nazis and their local collaborators massacred 34,000 Jews over two days during the Holocaust.

Ahead of the visit, Kyiv submitted to Jerusalem a set of demands, including that the Israeli government issue a clear statement condemning Russia’s invasion and in support of Ukraine’s territorial integrity.

Kyiv also requested approval for a loan, backing for Zelenskyy’s peace plan calling for a total withdrawal of Russian forces from Ukrainian territory, access to medical services and treatment in Israel and the joint development of missile-defense technology.

Cohen on Thursday said Israel intends to support Zelenskyy’s peace plan, which is expected to be presented at the United Nations next week.

Russia recently warned Israel against arming Ukraine after Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu indicated he was considering providing military assistance to Kyiv and was willing to mediate between the sides.

During his visit to Israel last month, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said that Jerusalem should be doing more to support Ukraine from a security perspective.

Standing alongside Netanyahu, Blinken said that “Russia’s ongoing atrocities” underscore the importance of “providing support for all of Ukraine’s needs—humanitarian, economic and security.”

Israel has refrained from providing weapons directly to Ukraine, as doing so could risk undermining the Jewish state’s security.

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