An Israeli early warning system against missile attack began operating in Kyiv this week, Ukrainian Ambassador to Israel Yevgen Kornichuk said on Wednesday.
The Ukrainians had asked Israel for missile warning systems since Russia invaded Ukraine last year. The previous government promised the system to Ukraine, but the ambassador credited Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s personal involvement in ensuring the project’s quick completion.
Saving people's lives
“Hopefully, they will finalize [the warning system] quickly, and we can copy-paste it to all major cities,” he said. “The Ukrainian government controls six cities with over a million residents, and we will definitely be using Israeli technology.”
The system identifies rockets and missiles of all kinds and projects where they will fall, thus reducing the area in which residents may be in danger. It also calculates how much time people in danger zones have to seek shelter.
“This is very important for our civilian and military infrastructure,” Kornichuk said. “It is equipment that will allow us to save lives.”
Israel is also helping Ukraine to clear mines, something that Foreign Minister Eli Cohen brought up in his meetings with EU officials in Brussels this week.
“Over the last six months, we have liberated territory twice as large as Israel that is full of mines,” Kornichuk said. “Our farmers have been blown up in their tractors.”
Ukraine’s leading experts on clearing mines worked with Israelis in the past in Africa, so they do not lack knowledge, he said, adding that the territory is so large, they need more equipment, especially robots, to do the work. Kornichuk said he emphasizes in all of his meetings with Israeli officials that Kyiv and Jerusalem have a “mutual enemy” in light of Iran selling arms to Russia.
Iranian drones assault Ukraine every day, and while it has had a 90% success rate in shooting them down, the other 10% do substantial damage, Kornichuk said.
“We need to do more together,” he said. “President [Volodymyr] Zelensky has the political weight to influence European leaders to stop the Iranian nuclear program… and impose more sanctions on Iran.”Kornichuk made his remarks following a trip to the US, during which he met with the leadership of the Jewish Federations of North America, the Conference of Presidents of Major Jewish Organizations, the American Jewish Committee and others.
Some of the organizations agreed to help fund the joint project of Israeli First Lady Michal Herzog and her Ukrainian counterpart, Olena Zelenska, to adapt Israeli resilience programs to help Ukrainians suffering from post-traumatic stress symptoms.
“There will be a trilateral effort, copying Israeli expertise in postwar trauma to Ukraine with the financial assistance of American Jewish organizations,” Kornichuk said.
Israel’s connection to the Jewish Diaspora should serve as a model for Ukraine, he said.
“I spoke to our political leadership and said we should collaborate with our diaspora in the US and Canada,” he added.Kornichuk said he was surprised that his Jewish American interlocutors were interested in speaking to him about the Israeli government’s judicial reform plan and had asked him his opinion on it as a lawyer.
“I quite unexpectedly heard questions like, ‘Why don’t you criticize the Israeli government like the American ambassador does,’” he said. “I said that I criticize the Israeli government for other things,” such as not providing military aid to Ukraine, “and I don’t want to give them a reason to say I’m intruding on their internal politics.”
Still, Kornichuk said he had the impression that Israel’s judiciary is “independent and well-organized” following the Ukrainian Embassy’s petition to the High Court of Justice last year against the Interior Ministry, which required Ukrainians to obtain electronic visas to enter Israel in violation of the visa-free agreement between the two countries. The embassy won the case.