Russia said to summon Israeli envoy over Jerusalem’s stance on Ukraine invasion

Jacob Magid is The Times of Israel's US correspondent based in New York

Israel's Ambassador to Russia Alexander Ben Zvi (Foreign Ministry)
Israel's Ambassador to Russia Alexander Ben Zvi (Foreign Ministry)

Russia has summoned Israel’s Ambassador to Moscow Alexander Ben Zvi to clarify Israel’s position regarding the Ukraine invasion, Hebrew media reports.

The Foreign Ministry clarified that the conversation was not a reprimand or dress-down while acknowledging that there are disagreements between the sides.

Russia’s foreign ministry has issued a statement saying its Deputy Foreign Minister Mikhail Bogdanov held a meeting with Ben Zvi and that the sides discussed bilateral ties and the situation in Ukraine. Bogdanov stressed the “importance of preserving the historical truth about the Second World War.”

Russia has branded as “neo-Nazis” Ukraine’s political leadership, including its Jewish president Volodymyr Zelensky. Historians have seen the use of the Holocaust in Moscow’s PR campaign as disinformation and a cynical ploy to further the Russian leader’s aims.

“At the same time, the hope was expressed that Israel would treat with the necessary understanding the reasons that prompted the Russian leadership to decide to conduct a special military operation to protect civilians in Donbass and to demilitarize and de-nazify Ukraine,” the Russian foreign ministry says.

Israel has avoided taking a stance aligned too closely with either side. This is believed to be at least partly due to its need to work with the Russian military presence in neighboring Syria.

Israel has expressed concern regarding the invasion and offered humanitarian aid to the Ukrainian people, but Prime Minister Naftali Bennett has avoided condemning Russia or even mentioning the country by name in his statements since the launching of the widespread military operation across Russia’s border early Thursday morning.

However, Foreign Minister Yair Lapid issued a far more clear condemnation, calling the invasion “a grave violation of the international order.”

Israeli officials told The Times of Israel that Bennett and Lapid’s responses were coordinated.

Russia’s Ambassador to Israel has struck a different tone, telling The Times of Israel earlier today that Moscow “hope[s] that Israel will continue [taking] a wise diplomatic approach.”

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