Ukrainian Foreign Minister Pavlo Klimkin meets with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
(photo credit: HAIM ZACH/GPO)
Ukrainian Foreign Minister Pavlo Klimkin wrapped up a low-profile two-day visit in Israel on Thursday, saying one of the purposes of his visit was to discuss ways to increase cooperation between the two countries, including “military and technical cooperation.”
Klimkin, in a brief interview with The Jerusalem Post on Wednesday just after he met Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, and before meeting Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman, said there were “different kinds of military technical assistance,” and that what was being discussed was not “a point of sensitivity.”
Neither Netanyahu nor Liberman’s office issued any readouts about the meeting with the Ukrainian foreign minister.
Klimkin said that he spoke with Netanyahu about the “strategic character” of Ukrainian-Israeli relations, different tracks of cooperation, negotiations over a free-trade agreement, and about trying to attract Israeli investments in high-tech and agriculture.
Israel has taken a fiercely neutral stance in the Russian- Ukrainian crisis, not wanting to antagonize Moscow.
Nevertheless, Klimkin said he was satisfied with Israel’s position throughout the crisis, adding that Israel’s support for Ukraine has been “consecutive and continuous.”
Asked how that was compatible with Israel’s abstention in March from a UN General Assembly resolution slamming Russia for the takeover of Crimea, Klimkin said that vote was only “one episode,” and that it was necessary to see the “whole [picture] of assistance and support.”
This support, he said, was manifest in the “tremendous assistance in the treatment of wounded Ukrainian military personnel in different Israeli clinics.” While not saying how many Ukrainian soldiers were hospitalized in Israel, he said that “we are talking about a considerable amount of people.”
During his trip to Israel – Klimkin’s first since becoming foreign minister in June, and his second trip here overall – visited some of the hospitalized Ukrainian soldiers. Klimkin said he wanted to see the Israeli medical assistance take place on a larger scale, providing medical assistance in Israel and medical equipment and treatment in Ukraine as well.
Regarding whether he really thought that Israel would provide military assistance now, considering its sensitivity to the Russians, Klimkin said there were “different kinds” of military technical assistance.
“We are talking about defense systems, about vests, about many things,” he said. “In that sense it is not a point of sensitivity, but of availability, and we are working on that very effectively.”
Israeli support for Ukraine was important because “we face similar challenges in a way,” he said, adding there was a large number of Ukrainians living in Israel.
The foreign minister said this was one of his first visits after traveling to Washington and Brussels, and was symbolic of the importance Kiev attributed to the bilateral relations.