Israel will be directly affected if Russia escalates - Ukrainian Deputy FM

Ukraine is responsible for a large percentage of Israel's grain.

 FM Yair Lapid meets with Ukraine's Deputy FM Emine Dzhaparov (photo credit: FOREIGN MINISTRY)
FM Yair Lapid meets with Ukraine's Deputy FM Emine Dzhaparov
(photo credit: FOREIGN MINISTRY)

Israel’s grain supply will be slashed if there is an escalation in Ukraine, Ukrainian Deputy Foreign Minister Emine Dzhaparova said Sunday.

“In case of an escalation, the State of Israel will be directly affected,” she said in Jerusalem after meeting with Foreign Minister Yair Lapid.

Ukraine, known as “Europe’s breadbasket,” is the source of half of the grains imported into Israel, Dzhaparova said.

“Cut your bread supply in half to understand how Israel will be affected,” she said in an interview.

The Israeli construction industry likely would be negatively impacted by a war because Israel imports a lot of metals from Ukraine, Dzhaparova said. Hi-tech, which has outsourced thousands of jobs to Ukraine, also would likely suffer, she said.

 Ukraine's Deputy FM Emine Dzhaparov visits Israel and meets with FM Yair Lapid. (credit: FOREIGN MINISTRY) Ukraine's Deputy FM Emine Dzhaparov visits Israel and meets with FM Yair Lapid. (credit: FOREIGN MINISTRY)

“I think Israel should be involved in seeking a resolution to a greater extent,” Dzhaparova said. “With all due understanding of domestic concerns and the issues in Syria and Iran, [Israel has] large communities coming from the former Soviet Union.”

“This is not the time for Israel to remove itself from the dossier,” she added. “It is time to demonstrate greater involvement in seeking a peaceful resolution.”

Dzhaparova said she made these points in meetings with Israeli officials, including Lapid, who she invited to visit Kyiv. No trip is currently planned, the Foreign Ministry said Sunday.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky last year asked Prime Minister Naftali Bennett and his predecessor, Benjamin Netanyahu, to try to mediate between him and Russian President Vladimir Putin, or between other officials, in light of the good relations Israel has with both countries. Both premiers offered, but Moscow refused.

Dzhaparova said she hopes Israel will support her country in light of the Russian military buildup of about 100,000 soldiers on Ukraine’s borders.

Ukrainian diplomats are focused on three kinds of support, Dzhaparova said.

“The first is political solidarity with my country, explaining why this aggression cannot be allowed,” she said. “The second is economic sanctions... In case Russia crosses the red lines, what will happen with regards to a deterrence mechanism?”

The third is most relevant to Israel, she said, adding: “There is great potential for cooperation between Israel and Ukraine on security issues. We believe that a secure Ukraine is a secure Europe and a secure region.”

Dzhaparova said she thinks “there is potential and hope” following her meeting with Lapid.

In addition, Ukraine has “a very strong Jewish community,” which includes Zelensky and other members of his cabinet, she said.

“This automatically brings higher expectations in assistance support help from the State of Israel,” she added. “This is something our society is waiting for.”

In light of recent comments by Zelensky to avoid actions motivated by panic, Dzhaparova was asked whether Israel’s decision to evacuate diplomats’ families and call on its citizens to leave Ukraine immediately was an example of such an action. She responded diplomatically, saying it is Israel’s decision and that she would not try to influence it.

However, travel warnings and evacuations “create chaos and panic,” Dzhaparova said. the government of Ukraine “calls to stay closer to the ground with respect to the information from Ukrainian intelligence services,” she added. “In making these kinds of decisions, it is good to coordinate.”

“Seven percent of the territory of Ukraine has been under occupation since 2014, and the consequences have been really awful in terms of violations in human rights and changes of demography,” Dzhaparova said. “The Russians brought in half a million newcomers [to the Donbas], which is a war crime.”

“The war in Donbas is not a civil war, as Russia claimed; it is a war with Russia,” she said, adding that Russia provides weapons, military coordination and soldiers, though Moscow denies it.

Earlier this month, Ukrainian Ambassador to Israel Yevgen Korniychuk took issue with comments by Lapid about the situation on his country’s borders. In an interview with Walla, Lapid said he “doesn’t see a violent conflict happening soon. I don’t think a world war will break out.”

Korniychuk also expressed concern that the tensions in Ukraine will distract Washington from the Iran nuclear talks. Lapid “reiterates rhetoric of Russian propaganda,” he wrote on Facebook.

The Foreign Ministry summoned Korniychuk to Jerusalem for a reprimand.

Korniychuk said the meeting with Dzhaparova went well despite the incident and that Lapid said his comments were misunderstood.

Dzhaparova said this was her first visit to Israel.

“I enjoyed walking in Jerusalem, where you see a microcosm of world processes in just one kilometer,” she said. “It was very important to see this firsthand.”