The internationally sanctioned wife of Russian President Vladimir Putin’s chief spokesman arrived in Israel for a private vacation several days ago, according to a report Wednesday.
Citing the group Israeli Friends of Ukraine, the Ynet news site said Tatiana Navka has been staying at the luxury Hotel Kempinski on Tel Aviv’s beachfront.
The organization’s founder questioned why Kremlin press secretary Dmitry Peskov’s wife was let into Israel “without a problem” and urged a change in Jerusalem’s policy toward Moscow.
“On the one hand Israel is making it difficult for refugees from Ukraine who are escaping a war to enter, and on the other hand is allowing cronies of Putin who are under heavy sanctions worldwide — including entry bans — to stay in Israel, tan on the beach and enjoy life,” Anna Zarov was quoted as saying.
“At the same time, Ukraine and its citizens are under heavy shelling. It’s absurd and a weak stance by our government,” she added.
The Foreign Ministry said in response that it was not aware of the details of the case.
Navka, a former Olympic ice dance champion known for participating in the so-called “Auschwitz on Ice” performance, was sanctioned by the United States, European Union and others following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine on February 24. According to the US Treasury Department, she has “a property empire worth more than $10 million.”
Peskov has also been sanctioned and two of his children were blacklisted by the US.
The report on Navka’s vacation in Tel Aviv came amid heightened tensions between Jerusalem and Moscow after an Israeli minister called Sunday for arming Ukraine in light of a report that Iran was planning to supply Russia with ballistic missiles.
In apparent response, former Russian president Dmitry Medvedev warned that such a move would “destroy all” ties between Israel and Russia.
Unnamed Israeli sources later told several Hebrew media outlets that Diaspora Affairs Minister Nachman Shai’s remarks do not reflect government policy, with Israel having made no official statement of any plans to send military aid to Ukraine.
Since Russia invaded on February 24, Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelenskyy and other Ukrainian officials have consistently pressed Israel to supply weapons. Jerusalem has sent repeated shipments of humanitarian aid to Ukraine, but has consistently rebuffed Kyiv’s requests for defense weapons, specifically missile defense systems that could be used to fend off Russian airstrikes, 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 against alleged Iranian arms shipments and in order to keep groups backed by Tehran from establishing a foothold.
Russia has largely turned a blind eye to the Israeli airstrikes, though ties have suffered as Israeli officials have condemned its invasion of its neighbor.
A senior Ukrainian official has said Israel is providing Ukraine with “basic intelligence” on Iranian suicide drones being deployed by the Russian army.