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Russian envoy to ToI: ‘We hope Israel will continue taking wise diplomatic approach’

Jacob Magid is The Times of Israel's US correspondent

Russian Ambassador to Israel Anatoly Viktorov at the Russian Embassy in Tel Aviv, November 2019. (Raphael Ahren/Times of Israel)
Russian Ambassador to Israel Anatoly Viktorov at the Russian Embassy in Tel Aviv, November 2019. (Raphael Ahren/Times of Israel)

Russian Ambassador to Israel Anatoly Viktorov tells The Times of Israel that Moscow hopes “Israel will continue [taking] a wise diplomatic approach.”

Viktorov offers the remarks in response to a query regarding Russia’s position on Israel’s response to the Ukraine invasion.

Prime Minister Naftali Bennett avoided condemning the Russian invasion of Ukraine — or even mentioning Russia by name — in his statement yesterday on the incursion. Instead, he expressed solidarity with the Ukrainian people and extended an offer to send humanitarian aid to Kyiv. The Thursday remarks were a stark contrast from Foreign Minister Yair Lapid’s condemnation of Russia only hours before.

Lapid called the invasion “a grave violation of the international order,” in Jerusalem’s harshest and most direct condemnation of Moscow since the crisis in Eastern Europe began.

A diplomatic official said Bennett’s decision to avoid mentioning Russia in his remarks was deliberate and coordinated with Lapid.

The more reserved stance by Bennett is believed to be at least partly due to its need to work with the Russian military presence in neighboring Syria.

A Ukrainian Army soldier inspects fragments of a downed aircraft in Kyiv, Ukraine, February 25, 2022. (AP Photo/Vadim Zamirovsky)

“We took note of Israel’s position,” Viktorov tells The Times of Israel. “Our Israeli colleagues have repeatedly spoken about their concern for the safety of their citizens and the Jewish community in Ukraine.”

“At the same time, once again, we hope that they will stay wise and diplomatic and continue our joint work for the benefits of our countries and peoples,” he adds, cautioning Israel against joining “a new kind of sport” of Russia bashing.

Viktorov says Russia handed over “a number of materials” to Israel that explain Moscow’s reasoning behind the invasion.

“They include the evidence of the guilt of the Ukrainian military-political leadership of committing war crimes and crimes against humanity aimed at their own people; facts of human rights violations, discrimination, war crimes and ethnocide conducted by Ukrainian government in Donbass; list of facts confirming Kiev’s withdrawal from the Package of Measures for the Implementation of the Minsk Agreements of 12 February 2015 and others,” Viktorov says.

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