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Report: Ukraine weighs ending visa-free agreement with Israel

Ukraine is upset with Israel's alleged "unfriendly actions toward Ukraine and pro-Russian position on the international arena," according to the Kyiv Post.

Independence Square in Kyiv, Ukraine. Credit: Tiia Monto via Wikimedia Commons.
Independence Square in Kyiv, Ukraine. Credit: Tiia Monto via Wikimedia Commons.

Ukraine is considering canceling its visa-free travel agreement with Israel and plans to request that the country be excluded from the Ukraine Defense Contact Group meetings due to its alleged “unfriendly actions toward Ukraine and pro-Russian position on the international arena,” the Kyiv Post reported on Thursday.

The Ukraine Defense Contact Group, also known as the Ramstein group, is an alliance of 54 countries aiding Ukraine with military equipment in its fight against the Russian invasion.

A source in Ukraine’s National Security and Defense Council claimed that “Israeli authorities never provided any real help” and “instead, the information received during the meetings is used by Israel in its own interests.”

According to the source, the Ukrainian Foreign Ministry is preparing a submission about the visa-free regime to the cabinet, which will be considered “in the coming weeks.”

The Kyiv Post also mentioned Ukraine’s Ambassador to Israel Yevgen Kornichuk, who has recently urged Israel to provide Ukraine with weapon systems that could counter ballistic missiles, also criticizing Israel for supposedly ending health insurance benefits for Ukrainian refugees and claiming that it deported around 10% of Ukrainian refugees.

Israel has been criticized for failing to send military aid to Ukraine. Israeli officials explain the move might jeopardize the IDF’s freedom of action in Syria, where Russia is active. Israel has, however, sent humanitarian aid to Ukraine, and was even the first country to open a field hospital on Ukrainian territory, shortly after the outbreak of the war last year, which treated over 6,000 patients during its six weeks of operation.

Kornichuk also warned that the throngs of Jewish pilgrims to the gravesite of Rabbi Nachman of Breslov in Uman could be endangered.

The source from the National Security and Defense Council, too, commented on the upcoming pilgrimage, saying Israel was trying to obtain security guarantees for the 20,000 expected to arrive in the small town for the Rosh Hashanah festivities, saying it was impossible to provide them given the “constant missile attacks.”

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