Ukrainian FM: We’re interested in more help from Israel, including with air defenses

Amid fears of Russian invasion, Dmytro Kuleba says Kyiv would welcome Jerusalem playing ‘a diplomatic role’; Lapid says Israel doesn’t believe there will soon be a violent conflict

Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba speaks in Copenhagen, Denmark, on January 27, 2022. (Mads Claus Rasmussen/Ritzau Scanpix/AFP)
Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba speaks in Copenhagen, Denmark, on January 27, 2022. (Mads Claus Rasmussen/Ritzau Scanpix/AFP)

Ukraine is seeking greater cooperation with Israel on air defense technology amid fears of a Russian invasion, the Eastern European country’s foreign minister said Wednesday. An Israel TV report specified that Ukraine has been in contact with Israel regarding the Iron Dome missile defense system, other missile warning technologies, and cyber defense technology.

During a press conference, Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba said there was “very deep cooperation… under the current circumstances” between Kyiv and Jerusalem, without elaborating.

“We are also interested in deepened defense cooperation on defense technology, in particular related to air defense,” he told a reporter from the Kan public broadcaster.

Also, “we would welcome the effort of Israel to play a diplomatic role between Ukraine and Russia,” Kuleba added, apparently owing to the Jewish state’s close ties with both nations.

Kan TV quoted a Ukrainian source saying Ukraine has discussed the Iron Dome system “several times” with Israel, as well as other missile defense and cyber defense systems and technologies.

Meanwhile, Foreign Minister Yair Lapid said Wednesday that Israel does not believe there will soon be a violent conflict between Ukraine and Russia.

“I also don’t think a world war is about to start there,” he said in remarks to the Axios news site.

Lapid said the standoff put Israel in a difficult position, as both Russia and Ukraine have large Jewish populations.

“We have a duty to act with caution about the Russia-Ukraine crisis that no other country has,” he said.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, left, welcomes Foreign Minister Yair Lapid, prior to their talks in Moscow, Russia, Thursday, Sept. 9, 2021. (Alexander Nemenov/Pool Photo via AP)

He also expressed concern that the crisis would overshadow the ongoing talks on restoring the 2015 Iran nuclear deal, an agreement that Israel publicly opposes.

“We would have liked the US to give a much closer attention to this issue in order to prevent dangerous things from happening,” he said.

Citing unnamed Israeli officials, the news site said that US Secretary of State Antony Blinken phoned Lapid on Wednesday to ask Israel to relay to Russia that de-escalation is needed on Ukraine.

According to the report, it was the second time Blinken made such a request of Lapid.

The Israeli officials said they have spoken with the Russians about the need for de-escalation, adding that Lapid planned to speak with Russian Minister Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov in the coming days.

A Ukrainian border guard patrols the border with Russia not far from Hoptivka village, Kharkiv region, Ukraine, February 2, 2022. (AP Photo/Evgeniy Maloletka)

Last week, Russia’s ambassador to Israel told The Times of Israel that talks between Russian officials and their Israeli counterparts have not focused on Ukraine, while lashing out at Western countries for arming Kyiv.

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