Israel’s ambassador to Ukraine responded on Friday to criticism voiced by Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky a day earlier about Israel’s lack of support in the face of the ongoing Russian offensive in his country.
In an interview with Kan public radio, Michael Brodsky acknowledged Ukraine’s difficult position and the suffering of the Ukrainian people amid the Russian invasion — but said Israel is already doing everything it can to help the war-stricken country.
“Ukraine is definitely going through a very difficult situation, a tragic one even. It is suffering heavy losses every day, in human life and infrastructure,” Brodsky said. “I’ve learned that everything is possible, that even in the 21st century, Europe can experience a comprehensive and brutal war, something we didn’t believe would happen [after World War II].”
Nevertheless, the ambassador claimed that Israel is at the forefront of providing assistance to Ukraine.
“In regard to Ukraine, Israel is doing everything it can and will continue to do so,” Brodsky said. “It is assisting Ukraine in many fields.”
Speaking by video to students and faculty members at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem on Thursday, Zelensky expressed disappointment in Israel’s support for his country.
“Please remember how close we are linked, how our ties are, and what should be the level of understanding between us,” the Ukrainian president said in the address, after referencing Zionist pioneers who grew up in Ukraine, including prime minister Golda Meir, author Sholem Aleichem and president Yitzhak Ben-Zvi.
“Unfortunately, for most items of assistance we would want to get from Israel, we can’t say we’ve gotten any of that assistance,” Zelensky told students in Jerusalem, also lamenting Israel’s lack of harsh sanctions against Moscow.
Brodsky seemed to echo some of Zelensky’s comments on Friday, acknowledging what he called the “shared fate” between Israel and Ukraine.
Calling the war “cruel,” he said “we’re all going to need to adapt ourselves to this new situation. First and foremost the Ukrainians themselves, but also the entire world and Israel.”
But he said that while Israel has had to and should continue to examine its position toward the changing reality in Europe, he argued that Israel has problems of its own it should focus on.
“Israel itself is in the midst of a challenging and sensitive situation,” Brodsky said in a possible reference to the current political turmoil that could see Israel head toward a fifth round of elections since 2019. Jerusalem has also skirted away from angering Russia in large part due to Moscow’s strong foothold in northern neighbor Syria.
Israel “needs to think of its own interests before anything else,” he said.
Referring to Zelensky’s repeated criticism of Israel, Brodsky said he can understand “Zelensky’s requests,” as well as the “criticism occasionally directed at Israel,” but stressed that “as someone positioned at the heart of Israel’s activities in Ukraine, I can say that Israel is assisting Ukraine a lot in many areas, not only in the humanitarian aspect.”
The ambassador noted that Israel will continue to provide Ukraine with humanitarian aid, “even more than before.” He acknowledged, however, that Israel’s assistance “is never enough,” noting Ukraine’s “devastated” economy.
“It will take many years and an international effort to rebuild the country and Israel will be a partner to this effort,” he said.
“My main message to my counterparts in Ukraine is that Israel can and wants to be a partner in helping Ukraine rebuild after the war or even during the war because in many areas where there is no active fighting some rehabilitation efforts are already underway and Israel will be part of this,” he said.
Brodsky noted that Israel’s diplomatic staff in Ukraine returned earlier this week to the Israeli embassy in the capital Kyiv, after relocating to Lviv in the country’s west shortly after Russian troops invaded in February.
Currently processing around 80 urgent cases, Brodsky told The Times of Israel on Thursday that the diplomatic staff will return to full capacity within two weeks and that the embassy will be permanently opened once the security situation allows.
דגל ישראל מונף שוב בקייב: במסגרת ביקור השגריר מיכאל ברודסקי וצוות השגרירות הישראלית באוקראינה בעיר קייב, הניף לפני זמן קצר השגריר ברודסקי את דגל ישראל בבניין השגרירות. זוהי הפעם הראשונה בה מונף הדגל, מאז התפנה הצוות מקייב ב 21 בפברואר השנה.
קרדיט: שגרירות ישראל באוקראינה pic.twitter.com/8sCw0NA8Ui
— חדשות כל העולם (@allworldnews111) May 17, 2022
Towards the end of the interview, Brodsky said that while “not everyone in Ukraine is optimistic, everyone’s willing to fight and they all want to see this war end sooner or later. I hope it happens sooner rather than later.”
He added that the recent announcement of Ukraine being accepted as a candidate to the European Union was a “shot of encouragement for the Ukrainians,” saying “they definitely need more encouragements of this kind.”