Zelensky Speaks With Netanyahu, Requests More Support from Israel

Kyiv hopes to push Tel Aviv further from its neutral position on the war in Ukraine

Ukrainian President Zelensky spoke with Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu by phone on Thursday. The leaders discussed how Tel Aviv could support Kyiv’s fight against Russia and the potential deployment of Israeli police to Ukraine to support Jewish pilgrims.

According to a press release from Zelensky’s office, the Ukrainian leader requested more assistance from Netanyahu. “The President emphasized the importance of Israel’s support for Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity,” the press release said. “The parties discussed possible ways for Israel to support Ukraine in countering Russia’s invasion.”

Netanyahu’s office said Zelensky requested air defenses. “The two leaders discussed the continuation of Israeli assistance to Ukraine, including… the advancement of development assistance of civilian air defense systems,” Tel Aviv wrote in its statement on the call.

The leaders also discussed the possibility of Tel Aviv sending Israeli police to Ukraine to support Jews making pilgrimages to Uman, a city in central Ukraine. “The Israeli side estimates that about 50,000 Hasidic pilgrims may arrive in Uman this year. It was emphasized that at present, the bomb shelters at the pilgrimage sites in Uman can accommodate only about 11,000 people.” The Ukrainian press releases added, “The possibility of sending additional Israeli police forces to the pilgrimage sites was also discussed.”

Early in the war, Tel Aviv emerged as a potential broker to end the war between Russia and Ukraine. Then-Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett reported that Tel Aviv made significant success in reaching an agreement, including securing concessions from Russian President Vladimir Putin. Bennett said the talks were ultimately squashed by Washington.

Since those negotiations fell through, the White House and Kyiv have pressured Israel to break its longstanding ties with Moscow and provide Ukraine with military support. Israel has provided Ukraine with non-military aid only.

Kyle Anzalone is the opinion editor of Antiwar.com, news editor of the Libertarian Institute, and co-host of Conflicts of Interest.