Netanyahu returns to Ukraine after 20 years to meet Zelensky

13 August 2019

Israeli Prime Minister Benyamin Netanyahu will visit Kyiv on Sunday, August 18, thus becoming the first foreign leader to come to Ukraine under the presidency of Volodymyr Zelensky. Rferl.org states that the two country leaders will visit the Babyn Yar memorial, which is the site of the largest mass execution of Jews, Ukrainian nationalists and others in the former Soviet Union by the Nazi regime. The meeting comes on the heels of President Zelensky signing into force a free-trade agreement with Israel and a month before parliamentary elections in Israel.

 

James Hydzik: President Zelensky has been public in his praise of Israel, not for religious or ethnic reasons, but for Israel’s focus on security. While Russian sources are claiming that Netanyahu will act as a mediator between Russia and Ukraine during his visit in regard to the fighting in Donbas and the occupation of Crimea, it is hard to see what he could say to someone who admires his hard line on defense. Moreover, any cooling of ardor for defense could affect more than just equipment sales, but also military ties between the two countries at a time when each possesses know-how and experience against Russians and Russian military systems that the other needs. For example, in October 2018, the Times of Israel reported that Israeli experts came to Ukraine to study the S-300 anti-aircraft missile system that they face in Syria. If Netanyahu’s visit has an angle regarding Donbas and Crimea, it will be more intricate than is being made out in the Russian-sourced press.

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