President Volodymyr Zelensky has warned that Ukraine will go to Israel for security advice, claiming that an “absolutely liberal” Kiev is now “impossible” in the aftermath of Moscow’s strike in late February. Zelensky is predicting a long-term armed military presence on the streets of Ukraine and has said Ukraine will be a ‘big Israel‘.
On Tuesday, the president told media that security will be the “number one” concern for Ukrainians for the next decade, even predicting a long-term armed military presence on the streets.
“Ukraine will definitely not be what we wanted it to be from the beginning. It is impossible. Absolutely liberal, European – it will not be like that,” he said. ” We will become a ‘big Israel’ with its own face. We will not be surprised if we have representatives of the Armed Forces or the National Guard in cinemas, supermarkets, and people with weapons.”
Following Zelensky’s remarks, Ukrainian Ambassador to Israel Yevgen Korniychuk told Haaretz that “no matter what happens next, [things] in Ukraine will be similar to the security situation in Israel,” and that “you will see more armed people in the streets, even when things become more peaceful than they are now.”
“Israelis have lived surrounded by enemies for all of their history and Ukraine will be doing the same,” he continued.
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Despite a brief clash between Zelensky and Israeli parliamentarians last month over the president’s comparison of Ukraine’s predicament to the Holocaust, Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett has offered to mediate talks between Kiev and Moscow, saying he felt obligated to assist bring the war to a stop. Turkey has played a similar role in recent weeks, hosting a number of high-level meetings on its territory.
In comments to the Knesset in March, Zelensky openly criticised Tel Aviv, accusing the government of “apathy” and “mediation without taking a side” while demanding military help for Ukraine. However, he then backtracked on those remarks, admitting that “Israel has its interests” and a “strategy to protect its citizens.”
“The prime minister of Israel, Mr. Bennett, is trying to find a way of holding talks, and we are grateful for this,” he said. “We are grateful for his efforts so that sooner or later we will begin to have talks with Russia, possibly in Jerusalem.”