Israeli FM will visit Kyiv in ‘coming days’ to explore ‘joint potential,’ says Ukrainian counterpart

“We have common security challenges, and we are obliged to face them together,” Ukraine’s top diplomat said.

By Ben Cohen, The Algemeiner

Ukraine’s foreign minister announced on Wednesday that his Israeli counterpart would visit Kyiv “in the coming days,” hailing the two countries “joint potential.”

In a remote address to the 2023 Kyiv Jewish Forum — an annual event that is being held in Washington, D.C., this year due to the Russian invasion — Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba confirmed the imminent arrival of newly-appointed Israeli Foreign Minister Eli Cohen.

“We have common security challenges, and we are obliged to face them together,” Kuleba said. “Our two nations share the same democratic ideals.”

Kuleba noted that he had already spoken with Cohen on the phone “but this will be his first official visit to Ukraine.”

Added Kuleba: “I believe that there is no better way to understand what is happening in Ukraine than to come and see everything with your own eyes. I also look forward to talking about everything on our joint agenda. I am sure that Ukraine and Israel have great joint potential.”

Kuleba stressed his hope that Israel would throw its weight behind “the formula for peace in Ukraine proposed by President Volodymyr Zelensky. We count on Israel’s participation in this issue.”

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Zelensky unveiled a 10-point peace plan last November that includes the withdrawal of all Russian forces from Ukraine and the establishment of  a war crimes tribunal among its measures.

Israeli media outlets have speculated over the demands the Ukrainians will make of Cohen during his visit. On Sunday, the Walla news outlet reported that Zelensky was demanding that Israel issue a strong denunciation of the Russian invasion, endorse Ukraine’s territorial integrity and agree to a $500 million loan to the Kyiv government.

In the year since Russia attacked its southern neighbor, Ukrainian leaders from Zelensky downwards have issued frequent appeals for Israeli military aid.

In recent months, that demand has been amplified against the backdrop of Russia’s military alliance with Israel’s arch-foe, Iran. In his speech on Thursday, Kuleba argued that Iran’s involvement meant that Israel had a vested interest in a Ukrainian military victory.

He also expressed frustration that talks on the transfer of Israeli air defense technology to Ukraine had apparently stalled, saying that he “could not think of any logical reason” why there had been no progress “when Ukraine makes the critical demand to protect the lives of the civilian population from the barbaric missile strikes of Russia.”