An Israeli citizen serving in the Ukrainian military has been taken captive by the pro-Russian separatist Luhansk Republic Army, according to a statement shared in the Luhansk Republic Military (LNR) telegram channel.
“I met with the Israeli consulate, they gave me a certificate so that I could leave the country and they [Ukrainian authorities] detained me at the border,” Vladimir Kozlovsky, 40, who was born in Ukraine, said in the video of how he was drafted into the Ukrainian military. Ukrainian male citizens 18-60 are prohibited from leaving the country with some exceptions, as they may be conscripted.
The Israeli Foreign Ministry told The Jerusalem Post that it is aware of the situation and taking the necessary measures accordingly.
"We had a weapon but we did not know how to use it...They did not train us to fight and sent us to the battlefield."Vladimir Kozlovsky
Prisoner of war video
In the video shared by the LNR, Kozlovsky displayed his Israeli ID card, which was issued in 2010. According to Ynet’s translation, Kozlovsky has a wife and child, and has been living in Ukraine for several years.
Kozlovsky was reportedly serving in eastern Luhansk as a soldier in the intelligence corps, participating in the transportation of soldiers to a position when caught in a heavy artillery barrage and captured by the Russian military.
“We had a weapon, but we did not know how to use it... They did not train us to fight and sent us to the battlefield,” Kozlovsky said, according to a Ynet translation. “They also did not tell us that we were going to fight. We thought we would stay in western Ukraine until we reached the Luhansk region. We were thrown like cannon fodder.”
“We received messages from the Russians that it was better for us to surrender,” he said. “We soldiers also talked about it before, but the commanders tried to prevent these conversations. We were told, if you surrender, you will be tortured to death. It is better not to surrender alive.”
Both Ukraine and Russia have been criticized by the International Committee of the Red Cross for releasing footage of prisoners of war for propaganda purposes. In these videos, the captives may make statements under duress or coercion.
Along with the video, the LNR shared instructions on how Ukrainians can leave the military and surrender.
Israelis in the Russia-Ukraine War
As the war between Russia and Ukraine has progressed, reports of Israeli citizens fighting with the Ukrainian military against Russia have surfaced.
In April, a video of what appeared to be pro-Ukrainian Israeli fighters began to circulate on social media. It wasn’t revealed in the video if they were foreign fighters or if they had Ukrainian citizenship.
“We want to thank all the Jews that are helping us,” said an alleged Israeli, who spoke in Hebrew. “We’re here for the Ukrainians and for the entire nation whose lives are endangered, we’re helping them, we’re all here together doing good work.”
In May, Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova claimed that “Israeli mercenaries” were “fighting shoulder-to-shoulder with the Azov militants,” likely referencing the video. Russia refers to foreign fighters as mercenaries in its official statements and does not recognize them as legitimate combatants.
Kozlovsky is not the first Israeli-Ukrainian detained by Russia. In early March, a merchant sailor with Israeli and Ukrainian citizenship had been detained by the Russian Navy in the Black Sea as his ship was sailing for Romania.
The Israeli Foreign Ministry and the Israeli embassy in Moscow sent official letters to its Russian counterparts and held talks with them after hearing of the arrest.