Israeli foreign minister arrives in Ukraine, set to meet with Zelensky

“I came to say that Israel stands by Ukraine and the Ukrainian people in its difficult hour,” said Eli Cohen.


Israeli Foreign Minister Eli Cohen arrived in Ukraine on Thursday for a solidarity visit ahead of the one-year anniversary of Russia’s invasion of the European nation.

Cohen is the first Israeli minister to travel to the war-torn country since the conflict erupted on Feb. 24, 2022.

“I came to say that Israel stands by Ukraine and the Ukrainian people in its difficult hour,” tweeted Cohen upon his arrival.

Cohen is slated to meet with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy and Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba. He will also attend a ceremony for the permanent reopening of the Israeli embassy in the Ukrainian capital, and tour Babyn Yar, where the Nazis and their local collaborators massacred 34,000 Jews over two days during the Holocaust.

Cohen arrived in Kyiv by overnight train from neighboring Poland. Due to security concerns, the trip was not announced until Thursday morning when he reached Bucha, the site of alleged Russian atrocities.

Ahead of the visit, Kyiv submitted to Jerusalem a set of demands, including that the Israeli government issue a clear statement condemning Russia’s invasion and in support of Ukraine’s territorial integrity.

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Kyiv is reportedly also requesting approval for a loan of $500 million, backing for Zelenskyy’s peace plan calling for a total withdrawal of Russian forces from Ukrainian territory, access to medical services and treatment in Israel and the joint development of missile-defense technology.

Russia has warned Israel against arming Ukraine, after Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu indicated he was considering providing military assistance to Kyiv, and was willing to mediate between the sides.

During his visit to Israel last month, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said that Jerusalem should be doing more to support Ukraine from a security perspective.

Standing alongside Netanyahu, Blinken said that “Russia’s ongoing atrocities” underscore the importance of “providing support for all of Ukraine’s needs—humanitarian, economic and security.”

Israel has refrained from providing weapons directly to Ukraine, as doing so could risk undermining the Jewish state’s security.