Ukraine to invite Economy Minister Barkat to June recovery conference in London

Kyiv’s ambassador to meet with minister Monday for talks on confab; First Lady Michal Herzog invites Ukrainian counterpart Olena Zelenska to Jerusalem

Lazar Berman is The Times of Israel's diplomatic reporter

Economy Minister Nir Barkat arrives for a meeting at the Prime Minister's Office in Jerusalem, January 3, 2023. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)
Economy Minister Nir Barkat arrives for a meeting at the Prime Minister's Office in Jerusalem, January 3, 2023. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

Kyiv will be inviting Israel’s Economy Minister to the international Ukraine Recovery Conference 2023 in June, a Ukrainian diplomat told The Times of Israel on Monday.

Ukrainian Ambassador Yevgen Korniychuk will officially extend the invitation to the June 21-22 conference during a meeting with Nir Barkat on Monday afternoon.

Barkat’s office would not comment on whether the minister would attend the event, to be hosted in London by the UK and Ukraine.

According to the organizers, “URC 2023 will focus on mobilizing international support for Ukraine’s economic and social stabilization and recovery from the effects of war, including through emergency assistance for immediate needs and financing private sector participation in the reconstruction process.”

The URC, which began as the Ukraine Reform Conference in 2017, met in Lugano, Switzerland, in July, months after Russian forces launched their full-scale invasion of Ukraine.

In September, Barkat made a surprise visit to Ukraine, touring destroyed neighborhoods in several Ukrainian cities, including Irpin, Kyiv and Bucha. He also prayed at the tomb of Rabbi Nachman of Bratslav in Uman ahead of the Jewish New Year.

Likud MK Nir Barkat seen praying at the tomb of Rabbi Nachman of Bratslav in Uman, Ukraine, September 9, 2022. (Twitter/used in accordance with Clause 27a of the Copyright Law))

In recent weeks, Kyiv has toned down its criticism of Israel for its attempts to maintain a neutral stance during the war and its refusal to send weapons to Ukraine. During her visit to Israel last week, the deputy speaker of Ukraine’s parliament outlined her country’s requests from Israel, but did not blast Israeli policy as Ukrainian officials have done in the past.

Israel points to its strategic need to maintain freedom of operations in Syria, where Russian forces could threaten Israeli pilots. Israel is one of the few Western countries that maintains relatively good relations with both Ukraine and Russia.

On Friday, President Isaac Herzog and his wife Michal renewed her invitation to Ukraine’s First Lady Olena Zelenska to visit Israel during their extended conversation ahead of King Charles III’s coronation ceremony in London, the Ukrainian official told The Times of Israel on Monday.

Eng/УкрFirst Lady of Ukraine Olena Zelenska met with President of Israel Isaak Herzog and Madame Herzog in London….

Posted by Embassy of Ukraine in the State of Israel on Monday, May 8, 2023

Israel’s first lady first invited her Ukrainian counterpart, wife of President Volodymyr Zelensky, in April.

The ad hoc discussion took place at a reception at Buckingham Palace in honor of the heads of state and royals who flew in for the occasion, during which Herzog shook hands with the leaders of Qatar and Oman, which don’t have formal diplomatic ties with the Jewish state.

“Inspiring words of support from a true friends!” wrote Ukraine’s Embassy in Israel on its Facebook page on Monday. “We are extending a dialog on joint projects aimed to support Ukrainians, who are suffering from a severe Russian aggression.”

An announcement about Zelenska’s potential trip is expected in the coming weeks.

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