Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Russian President Vladimir Putin.
(photo credit: REUTERS)
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is the latest leader to decide not to attend Russia’s victory parade on Saturday, May 9, to mark the 70th anniversary of the end of World War II in Europe.
Russia has struggled to sway leaders and high-level officials who oppose its support for the insurgency in Ukraine to attend the Moscow ceremony. The leaders of the US, France, and Germany have said they will not attend.
Israel has kept a low profile with regard to the Russian-Ukrainian conflict and has maintained relationships with both governments, as it continues to look out for the interests of Jewish communities in both countries.
Israel’s ambassador to Russia will attend the event, according to the Foreign Ministry, but Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman will not be at the ceremony.
The Prime Minister’s Office and the Foreign Ministry did not explain the absence of a high-level Israeli delegation to the ceremony, which will be held at a time of tension with Russia over its decision this month to lift a five-year ban on the sale of its S-300 air-defense missile system to Iran, with delivery possibly scheduled for the end of year.
The Russian ceremony, however, falls on Shabbat, which Israeli leaders do not publicly violate, although sometimes they have gone to extraordinary lengths to participate in public events while still observing Shabbat.
Netanyahu will be attending Israel’s ceremony on Thursday, May 7, to mark the end of WWII in Europe.
As of April 7, Russia has said the heads of 26 countries have confirmed their attendance at the May 9 celebrations. Among those who will attend is Chinese President Xi Jinping and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.
The Soviet Union’s victory over Nazi Germany in the Great Patriotic War stirs national pride more than any other celebration in Russia and is marked with big public displays.Reuters contributed to this report.