KYIV, Ukraine (JTA) — In a move that may anger Russia, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is reportedly scheduled to visit Ukraine soon and host its president in Jerusalem.
Ukraine’s ambassador to Israel, Hennadii Nadolenko, announced the plans for the visits in an op-ed published this week ahead of Ukraine’s 24th independence day on Aug. 24.
“We expect in the near future a visit by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to Kyiv, and by Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko to Jerusalem, in a new milestone in bilateral relations that will further deepen co-operation between the two countries in all spheres of mutual interest,” Nadolenko wrote in his op-ed, which was reproduced on Wednesday by the news site evreiskiy.kiev.ua.
Resisting American and Russian pressure, Israel under Netanyahu has remained tight-lipped and neutral on the bloody conflict that, after Ukraine’s 2013 revolution, erupted between that country and Russia. That year, Ukraine’s former president, Viktor Yanukovych, was swept from power by revolutionaries who accused him of being a corrupt Kremlin stooge.
Russia then invaded Ukraine and annexed the Crimea, citing concern for minorities under the country’s new leadership, which Russia has accused of being a terrorist-harbouring, pro-fascist regime.
Poroshenko, who was elected last year and has not yet visited Israel as president, has accused Russia of land theft and state-sponsored terrorism over its arming and support for separatists in the breakaway regions of Donetsk and Lugansk, where they are engaged in a bloody war with Ukrainian government troops.
He came to Israel last year on a clandestine visit, in which he reportedly urged officials to support Ukraine in the conflict.
Israel has protested the planned sale of advanced Russian S-300 air defense missiles to Iran. In April, Israeli defence officials told the news site nrg.co.il that Israel may respond by selling arms to Ukraine and Georgia.