Israel is the only Western holdout for Putin – why Jerusalem is coy on following the West


Following Russian President Vladimir Putin’s decision to launch a full-scale invasion of Ukraine a number of countries from around the world have imposed sanctions against Moscow. The West has set its sights on crippling the Russian economy and its wealthiest oligarchs while also aiding Ukraine with munitions and humanitarian support.

A mediator in the Ukraine-Russia crisis, Israel has condemned President Putin’s invasion.

However, the country is conscious of not straining relations with Moscow, a power-broker in neighbouring Syria where Israeli forces regularly attack pro-Iranian militia.

Although Israel has imposed some sanctions against Russia it has stopped short of adopting all the measures announced by the West.

For example, the country has not officially passed any regulations or orders that would affect Israeli companies doing business with Russia.

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US Undersecretary of State for Political Affairs, Victoria Nuland, has urged Israel to commit to all sanctions and not “become the last haven for dirty money that’s fuelling Putin’s wars”.

Meanwhile, Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky has asked why Jerusalem was not providing missile defences to his country or sanctioning Russia over its invasion.

During an address to Israel’s parliament, last Sunday, Mr Zelensky said the “choice is yours to make” and that “you must then live with your answer”.

He said: “Everybody knows that your missile defence systems are the best. And that you can definitely help our people, save the lives of Ukrainians, of Ukrainian Jews.”

In a statement Israeli Foreign Minister Yair Lapid said his country would continue to assist the Ukrainian people “as much as we can” but was non-committal on whether that would extend beyond sending humanitarian aid.

Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett held talks with President Vladimir Putin two weeks ago in Moscow and has spoken frequently with him and Mr Zelensky since then.

The deputy head of the Ukrainian presidential administration, Ihor Zhovkva, told Politico that the time has now come for Israel to pick a side in the war.

He said: “As far as Israel is concerned, yeah, I think they should be more decisive in finding their place in this Ukraine-Russian war.”

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At present the UK, EU and US have imposed sanctions on hundreds of members of the Russian regime, and wealthy business leaders known as oligarchs, who are considered close to the Kremlin.

Elsewhere, the US has announced it’s banning all Russian oil and gas imports and the UK will phase out Russian oil by the end of 2022.

Western countries have frozen the assets of Russia’s central bank, to stop it using its $630bn (£470bn) of foreign currency reserves, and some banks are being removed from the international financial messaging system Swift.

A growing number of international companies including McDonald’s, Coca-Cola and Starbucks have also suspended trading in Russia.


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