Ex-IDF soldier turned Ukrainian MP begs Israel for military assistance

Oleksandr Kunytskyi tells Israeli TV that Israelis ‘know what missiles are, what bunkers are,’ appeals for helmets, vests, and other military equipment

Amy Spiro is a reporter and writer with The Times of Israel

Ukrainian MP Oleksandr Kunytskyi speaks to Israel's Channel 12, on February 27, 2022. (Screenshot/Channel 12)
Ukrainian MP Oleksandr Kunytskyi speaks to Israel's Channel 12, on February 27, 2022. (Screenshot/Channel 12)

Oleksandr Kunytskyi, a Ukrainian immigrant to Israel who served in the IDF before returning to his home country and being elected to parliament, issued a plea for help in an interview with Israeli TV on Sunday.

“Our situation is not good right now. We really need help from Israel as well,” Kunytskyi told Channel 12 in an interview from an undisclosed location in Kyiv, as Russian forces closed in on the capital city.

“When I was a soldier in the IDF, I provided assistance. When I was needed there, I was there,” Kunytskyi said. “And now I am calling on the people of Israel to do the same. We need helmets, vests — equipment that has not been needed in Israel for a long time. Please send it to us and help our army and our people here.”

Kunytskyi, 38, was elected in 2019 as an MP with the Servant of the People party, the faction headed by Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky.

Kunytskyi told Channel 12 that just a few minutes before the interview, he was forced to take shelter amid air raid sirens in the city.

“Every minute we have to run and help” women and children take shelter, he said. He noted that many people in Israel have loved ones in Ukraine on the frontlines of the fighting.

This general view shows damage to the upper floors of a building in Kyiv, on February 26, 2022, after it was reportedly struck by a Russian rocket. (Daniel Leal/AFP)

“In Israel, people 100% know what missiles are, what bunkers are, what it is like to have to run, what air raid sirens are,” Kunytskyi said. “I was in Israel and I also know what it is like.”

He said that “what’s going to happen in Ukraine is even worse than it was last time in Israel… I very much hope that as many people in Israel as possible see this. We really need the help.”

He also asked Israelis with connections in Russia “to call them and tell them what’s really going on here, what’s going on in Kyiv and in Kharkiv and in Odesa now.”

Kunytskyi said he “wants Putin to take his army and get them out of Ukraine,” vowing that “we will be here until the end, and we won’t give the Russians a single city of ours, a single place. We will kick them out of Ukraine.”

Kyiv Mayor Vitali Klitschko during an interview with the Associated Press in his office in the City Hall in Kyiv, Ukraine, on February 27, 2022. (AP Photo/Efrem Lukatsky)

Kyiv Mayor Vitali Klitschko said Sunday evening that Russian troops have blocked off all access points to Ukraine’s capital city.

“All ways are blocked,” he told The Associated Press. “Right now we are encircled.”

When Russian troops invaded Ukraine on Thursday, the capital city of 2.8 million people reacted with concern but also a measure of self-possession. However, nerves started fraying when grocery stores began closing and the city’s famously deep subway system turned its stations into bomb shelters.

The mayor confirmed to the AP that nine civilians in Kyiv have been killed so far, including one child.

Russian troops’ advance on the city has been slower than many military experts had expected, but the overall Russian military advantage is well-known to all.

AP contributed to this report.

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