Lapid accuses Russia of war crimes in Ukraine

Foreign Minister Yair Lapid in Cyprus, on April 5, 2022. (Asi Efrati/GPO)
Foreign Minister Yair Lapid in Cyprus, on April 5, 2022. (Asi Efrati/GPO)

In Cyprus, Israel’s Foreign Minister Yair Lapid accuses Russia of war crimes for the first time, breaking with a policy that had sought to avoid explicitly blaming Russia.

“A large and powerful country has invaded a smaller neighbor without any justification. Once again, the ground is soaked with the blood of innocent civilians,” Lapid charges alongside his Cypriot and Greek counterparts, according to a statement from his spokesman.

The spokesman calls Lapid’s comments a joint statement with Cyprus and Greece, though it’s unclear if Athens and Nicosia jointly authored or backed the comments.

“The images and testimony from Ukraine are horrific. Russian forces committed war crimes against a defenseless civilian population. I strongly condemn these war crimes,” Lapid says.

He touts the international coalition backing Ukraine, which Israel has kept some distance from.

Lapid says the war in Ukraine offers opportunities for new energy partnerships. Israel, Greece, and Cyprus had worked on a joint project to bring gas from the eastern Mediterranean to Europe, but the pipeline scheme had fallen by the wayside in recent months as Jerusalem tightened ties with Ankara.

“The war in Ukraine stands to change the structure of the European and Middle Eastern energy market,” he says. “There are risks here, but there are also opportunities which we must examine together.”


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