Kirill Solod
The Golda Meir Institute for Political and Social studies

Ukraine goes for broke. Again.

Ukrainian Ambassador to Israel Yevgen Korniychuk condemned actions of the Israeli border guards, not letting Ukrainian citizens to Israel. “The government of Ukraine will not tolerate the humiliation of its citizens at the entrance to Israel. We are considering the possibility of canceling the visa-free policy agreement between our countries,” the ambassador said.

Of course, the abolition of the visa regime will become a global problem for Israel, because, despite the ongoing hostilities on the territory of Ukraine, a massive pilgrimage of Israelis to Uman during the Rosh Hashanah holiday is expected.

Israeli Ambassador to Ukraine Mikhail Brodsky responded correctly to the statement of the Ukrainian colleague, who noted that according to the data of the Department of Population and Migration of the Israeli Ministry of Internal Affairs, since the beginning of the year only 5.4% (about 2500 people) have been denied entry. “In the overwhelming majority of cases, we are talking about those who came to work illegally in Israel”.

Such statements (even without the practical use of threats) by Ukrainian officials have a direct negative impact on bilateral relations between Israel and Ukraine. Many people remember Ukraine’s attempts to involve Israel in active participation in hostilities through the exploitation of the Holocaust theme, but then Ukraine received not only a refusal, but also a wave of fair criticism from the world community.

Global  community already accustomed to the fact that foreign ministries’ policy of many countries resembles sea waves that roll ashore (in the format of ultimatums) and then roll back, changing their rhetoric to softer ones. Given the fact that Israel in many ways is a unique phenomenon (not always in a positive context), it may turn out that the next sea wave will not roll back and will drown all the bilateral achievements that have been made in recent decades.

Ukraine must understand that it is Israel that has all the necessary starting positions in order to begin to play a mediating role in cessation of hostilities. This fact is supported by the time-tested relationship between Netanyahu and Putin (which has had its ups and downs) and Israel’s historically regular interaction with the American establishment. In addition, Israel can provide support to Ukraine in the post-war period. The expert community discusses the option that Ukraine could follow the path of Israel in the matter of state building.

Thus, Ukrainian side and its representatives should clearly understand and respect those “red lines” (such as the use of ultimatums and threats) that should not be crossed in relations with Israel – a country that sincerely intends to continue assistance and support within the previously agreed framework. At least, for now…

About the Author
Political advisor. Research analyst. Government Relations, International Affairs, Political Sociology. Head of The Golda Meir Institute for Political and Social studies and managing partner of the Institute of Political Consulting LS GROUP. Former consultant to M. Gorbachev on public relations. Former head of NGOs in Russia. MBA, Instituto de Empresa (Madrid, 2010). Repatriated to Israel in 2017.
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