Bennett's mediation worth more to Ukraine than weapons - ambassador

Ambassador Yevgen Korniychuk said he especially values Bennett’s willingness to violate Shabbat for the peace efforts.

Ukrainian Ambassador to Israel Yevgen Korniychuk (photo credit: Lahav Harkov)
Ukrainian Ambassador to Israel Yevgen Korniychuk
(photo credit: Lahav Harkov)

Ukrainian Ambassador to Israel Yevgen Korniychuk said his country welcomed Bennett’s efforts to mediate with Russia.

“Thank you for the peace effort,” he said. “This is priceless for us. This is much more important than sales of weapons and of munitions, which we are still fighting for, but we understand [your reasons for not sending them].”

Korniychuk said he especially valued Bennett’s willingness to violate Shabbat for the peace efforts, flying to Moscow and Berlin on Saturday.

“Jerusalem is a possible place for negotiations and meetings at the highest level,” he said.

Korniychuk said his government views Israel as a friendly country and one that can join with other democracies to work on bringing peace.

Volunteers and staff at the Ukraine Cultural Center in Tel Aviv pack donated goods for refugees, filling up the entire first floor. (credit: Lahav Harkov)Volunteers and staff at the Ukraine Cultural Center in Tel Aviv pack donated goods for refugees, filling up the entire first floor. (credit: Lahav Harkov)

He was unable to elaborate on Bennett’s mediation attempts or details of the prime minister’s three calls with Zelensky on Saturday night and Sunday.

“We are not sure if this was helpful or not, but the fact that the prime minister left the country during Shabbat to talk peace is unprecedented,” Korniychuk said.

However, he did say Ukraine has continued to ask for weapons and protective gear, such as helmets and vests, and expressed disappointment that Israel has not sent any.

Donning a military helmet, Korniychuk said: “Can you please tell me how you can kill with this thing? It is simply not possible. What are they afraid of? Providing personal security for Ukrainians? It’s the simplest thing that they can do... to save Ukrainian lives.”

He said Russia’s war on Ukraine was “genocide” and compared it to the Yom Kippur War.

“We are dealing with an enemy with much greater and stronger weapons,” he said.

Korniychuk called on Israelis with relatives in Russia to tell them the truth about the war, rather than what they see in their censored media.

“To the Russians: What did we do to you for our men to be killed and women to be raped? We are fighting for our independence,” he said.

Korniychuk also expressed appreciation for Israel’s decision to send a field hospital to Ukraine, which was “very timely and important,” in addition to 100 tons of humanitarian aid sent last week.

“We are very deeply impressed by the level of the response of the Israeli people,” he said. “For the last two weeks, day and night, they are coming to the Ukraine Cultural Center [in Tel Aviv] and bringing whatever they can in order to support the Ukrainians.”

The first floor of the cultural center, where Korniychuk held the press conference, was full of boxes of items donated to help Ukrainians. There was a sign on the door not to bring more secondhand clothes because they had more than they could transport.

Korniychuk urged Israeli businesses to follow the steps taken by Western companies and boycott Russia.

“Even if we don’t achieve sanctions from the government, sanctions from the people can take place,” he said.

Korniychuk said he had reached an understanding with Interior Minister Ayelet Shaked on easing the entry of refugees into Israel, especially in cases in which they have family or friends who can vouch for them.