Ukrainian deputy FM protests Israel’s call for its citizens to leave

On visit to Israel, official says evacuation due to threat of Russian invasion is causing panic, repelling investors; El Al offers to evacuate US citizens

Foreign Minister Yair Lapid hosts Ukraine's Deputy Foreign Minister Emine Dzhaparova in Jerusalem, Febraury 13, 2022 (via Twitter)
Foreign Minister Yair Lapid hosts Ukraine's Deputy Foreign Minister Emine Dzhaparova in Jerusalem, Febraury 13, 2022 (via Twitter)

Deputy Ukrainian Foreign Minister Emine Dzhaparova said Monday that Israel’s urgent calls for its citizens to leave her country amid predictions of an imminent Russian invasion are economically damaging and causing panic.

Speaking with the Kan public broadcaster, Dzhaparova asked that Israel, rather than assume war is imminent, help to negotiate a cooling of the escalating tensions between Ukraine and Russia.

She said that calls from Israel and other countries to evacuate creates panic and hurts the Ukrainian economy as investors pull their money from the country.

Israel on Saturday called on all its citizens to immediately leave Ukraine and has repeated the advice since then amid US predictions that Russia will invade later this week, likely on Wednesday.

Dzhaparova, who was visiting Israel, met with Foreign Minister Yair Lapid on Sunday and told him Israel should show “greater involvement” in the crisis, Kan reported.

Ukrainian sources told the station that due to Israel’s good ties with both Moscow and Kyiv, it is well-positioned to serve as a mediator.

A Ukrainian tank moves during military drills close to Kharkiv, Ukraine, Thursday, Feb. 10, 2022. (AP/Andrew Marienko)

However, Lapid reportedly told Dzhaparova that Israel is not a player in the Russia-Ukraine conflict, and therefore is acting with caution.

Lapid also expressed concern over Ukraine’s tensions with Russia, and updated Dzhaparova on Israel’s travel warning to its citizens, which was issued Saturday.

He told her he hopes that the situation will deescalate as the result of ongoing international diplomatic efforts.

Also Sunday evening, Tourism Minister Yoel Razvozov, who was born in Russia, met with Russia’s ambassador to Israel, Anatoly Viktorov, to discuss the situation.

“Israel is not a party to the conflict,” Razvozov told Viktorov, according to Kan. “Like everyone, we want the situation to calm down.”

The United States, which has also urged its nationals to leave Ukraine, on Monday relocated its embassy from Kyiv amid what it said was an accelerated buildup of Russian forces on the border with Ukraine, where some 100,000 troops have been deployed.

Tourism Minister Yoel Razvozov at the Knesset on December 7, 2021 (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

The embassy was moved to the western Ukrainian city of Lviv.

Israel’s national carrier El Al announced Monday that it will operate extra flights out of Ukraine to help hundreds of US citizens leave the country.

Americans will be brought to Tel Aviv and from there can make their way home.

El Al remains one of the few airlines still offering scheduled flights to and from Kyiv. Most European and US airlines have cut back or entirely canceled their services to Ukraine. Other Israeli airlines have also increased their flights from Ukraine to Israel to assist in evacuating Israelis.

The Foreign Ministry estimates there are between 10,000 and 15,000 Israelis in Ukraine. However, despite the urgency of the calls to leave, which have been led by Lapid and Prime Minister Naftali Bennett, there has reportedly not been a rush to exit the country.

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