Ukraine’s ambassador to Israel, Yevgen Korniychuk, was summoned by Israel on Thursday for a reprimand over an angry Facebook post that accused Foreign Minister Yair Lapid of not believing there would be a violent confrontation between Ukraine and Russia.
“At the moment, the [Israeli] assessment is that we don’t see a violent confrontation soon. I also don’t think a world war is about to start there,” Lapid told the Axios news site on Wednesday.
Korniychuk railed at Lapid, saying he was “deeply appalled by the recent remarks of Mr. Lapid regarding his vision of the ‘Russia-Ukraine conflict.'”
“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. It is a shame, that Mr. Lapid has not noticed the war in the center of Europe which lasts for eight years already,” the post read.
“Unfortunately, Mr. Minister reiterates rhetoric of Russian propaganda and ignores the disturbing massages [sic] from his own strongest allies — USA, Britain and EU — regarding the high possibility of full scale Russian military invasion into Ukraine in coming weeks.
“I would suggest Mr. Lapid to have a phone conversation not only with the minister of foreign affairs of aggressor state but also communicate with Ukrainian side, to see the real picture instead of using Russian clichés,” he added.
Korniychuk was subsequently summoned for a dressing down by Gary Koren, deputy director-general of the Eurasia and Western Balkans Division at the Foreign Ministry.
Lapid said the standoff between Ukraine and Russia put Israel in a difficult position, as both Russia and Ukraine have large Jewish populations.
“We have a duty to act with caution about the Russia-Ukraine crisis that no other country has,” he said to Axios.
Citing unnamed Israeli officials, the news site said that US Secretary of State Antony Blinken phoned Lapid on Wednesday to ask Israel to relay to Russia that de-escalation is needed on the issue of Ukraine.
According to the report, it was the second time Blinken made such a request of Lapid.
The Israeli officials said they had spoken with the Russians about the need for de-escalation, adding that Lapid planned to speak with Russian Minister Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov in the coming days.
Last week, Russia’s ambassador to Israel told The Times of Israel that talks between Russian officials and their Israeli counterparts have not focused on Ukraine, while lashing out at Western countries for arming Kyiv.