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PM talks with Ukraine’s Zelensky, again refrains from condemning Russia in statement

Bennett offers humanitarian aid as Russian army reaches capital Kyiv; Ukrainian president reportedly initiated call

Prime Minister Naftali Bennett poses for a picture at the Prime Minister's Office in Jerusalem, on January 26, 2022; Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky addresses the nation in Kyiv, Ukraine, on February 24, 2022. (Olivier Fitoussi/Flash90; Ukrainian Presidential Press Office via AP)
Prime Minister Naftali Bennett poses for a picture at the Prime Minister's Office in Jerusalem, on January 26, 2022; Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky addresses the nation in Kyiv, Ukraine, on February 24, 2022. (Olivier Fitoussi/Flash90; Ukrainian Presidential Press Office via AP)

Prime Minister Naftali Bennett spoke with Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky on Friday, offering to send humanitarian assistance to the embattled nation as Russian forces reached Kyiv.

The two discussed the fighting in Ukraine, especially around the capital, according to the Prime Minister’s Office.

Bennett offered humanitarian aid to the country and laid out to Zelensky what Israel has provided thus far.

He told Zelensky that he hopes the war will end soon, and sent a message of support to the Ukrainian people, according to a statement from the Prime Minister’s Office.

Consistent with Bennett’s address on Thursday, the statement from his office did not include any condemnation of Russian actions, nor did it mention Russia by name.

According to the Kan public broadcaster, the call was initiated by Zelensky. There was no immediate comment from the Ukrainian leader on the call.

In this handout photo taken from video published by the Ukrainian Police Department Press Service on February 25, 2022, firefighters inspect the damage at a building following a rocket attack on the city of Kyiv, Ukraine (Ukrainian Police Department Press Service via AP)

Israel has so far been careful in its comments on the conflict. This is believed to be at least partly due to its need to work with the Russian military presence in neighboring Syria.

Sources in both the Foreign Ministry and in the Prime Minister’s Office told The Times of Israel on Thursday that Bennett was coordinating his statements fully with Foreign Minister Yair Lapid, who clearly condemned Russia’s invasion in a statement on Thursday.

Separately, Israel will send NIS 10 million ($3.07 million) in aid to Ukraine’s Jewish community immediately, the Diaspora Affairs Ministry said on Friday.

“This decision comes from the unique mandate of the State of Israel, and in particular, its Diaspora Ministry, as the nation-state of the Jewish people, to support Jewish individuals and communities in harm’s way,” the ministry said in a statement.

“It’s become quite clear at this stage that both immediate and ongoing support are needed.”

Smoke rises from an air defense base in the aftermath of an apparent Russian strike in Mariupol, Ukraine, Thursday, Feb. 24, 2022. (AP Photo/Evgeniy Maloletka)

The ministry said the aid would come in four main forms: food and medicine; funding for security guards around Jewish centers to protect them from rioting and looting; helping refugees in widescale evacuations; and transporting people to safer areas.

Ukraine said Russian forces approached Kyiv from the north and from the east on Friday. Putin launched the wide-scale attack on Ukraine in the early hours of Thursday.

Agencies contributed to this report.

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