Envoy hopes policy will change following election

‘Our secret weapon’: Ukraine enlisting US to push Israel into sending military aid

Kyiv’s Ambassador to Israel Yevgen Korniychuk says he meets weekly with US envoy Tom Nides as part of efforts to bring Israel in line with Western position

Michael Horovitz is a breaking news editor at The Times of Israel

Ukrainian Ambassador to Israel Yevgen Korniychuk, interviewed at his country's embassy in Tel Aviv, March 22, 2022.(Times of Israel)
Ukrainian Ambassador to Israel Yevgen Korniychuk, interviewed at his country's embassy in Tel Aviv, March 22, 2022.(Times of Israel)

Ukraine is seeking the assistance of the United States in pressuring Israel to supply it with military aid, Kyiv’s envoy to Jerusalem told US media on Sunday.

Ukrainian Ambassador to Israel Yevgen Korniychuk told the Washington-based news site The Hill that he holds weekly meetings with US Ambassador to Israel Tom Nides as part of a process to push Israel to send defense equipment to Ukraine.

“I’m joking, but I’m calling him our secret weapon. This is why we discuss the different measures of support, and again, we need to change this major trend that makes Israel’s position different from the rest of the democratic world, and have more military-technical cooperation,” Korniychuk said.

Though Jerusalem has sent multiple shipments of humanitarian aid to Ukraine, Israel has repeatedly rebuffed Kyiv’s requests for defensive weapons, specifically missile defense systems that could be used to fend off Russian bombardments, despite expressing sympathy for the country’s plight.

Israel’s refusal is seen as an attempt by Jerusalem to maintain working ties with Moscow due to Russia’s control of Syrian airspace, where Israel’s air force has carried out hundreds of sorties to keep groups backed by Tehran from establishing a foothold and to block alleged Iranian arms shipments to terror groups.

Israeli officials have also expressed fear that advanced military technology could fall into enemy hands and cited production and supply limitations.

The wreckage of what Kyiv has described as an Iranian Shahed drone downed near Kupiansk, Ukraine, September 13, 2022. (Ukrainian military’s Strategic Communications Directorate via AP)

However, there are signs that Jerusalem’s aid efforts are increasing amid reports that Russia has begun using suicide drones received from Israel’s regional rival Iran.

Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky said last week that relations between Israel and Ukraine have begun to improve, citing intelligence cooperation between the countries relating to the Iranian-made Shahed drones employed by the Kremlin in the war.

Korniychuk also said there had been progress “on some technical issues related to defense,” particularly regarding Israel’s offer to provide its missile alert system technology.

“Especially now, when Russia started to collaborate with Iran, that triggers, of course, much greater tensions among the Israeli politicians and military experts, and the [people in the] street to help Ukraine, just because, eventually, Iran becomes part of the coalition against Ukraine,” Korniychuk told The Hill, citing Israel’s growing concern over Moscow’s ties with Tehran.

He added that he hoped Israel would be convinced to deliver anti-missile and anti-drone systems after the November 1 election.

Furthermore, Ukraine’s envoy said he was seeking Washington’s help to press Israel on enforcing the Western sanctions regime.

Israel has yet to join the action since there is currently no legal structure in the Jewish state that would allow for sanctions on assets and citizens of a state that is not defined by law as an enemy country. Such a law could theoretically be passed in the future.

Russian President Vladimir Putin meets with Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi on the sidelines of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) summit in Samarkand, Uzbekistan, September 15, 2022. (Alexandr Demyanchuk, Sputnik, Kremlin Pool Photo via AP)

However, Israel has promised to abide by international blacklists, and ensure that it does not become a place where sanctioned Russians can bypass the West’s measures.

“The issue of sanctions is also important and the Americans are in a much better position to check whether the Israelis are following those sanctions or not,” Korniychuk said.

A spokesperson from the Treasury Department told The Hill that they were working with several countries, including Israel, in an effort to “cut off avenues for Russia to evade international sanctions and export controls.”

Times of Israel staff contributed to this report.

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