- Sputnik International, 1920, 25.02.2022
Russia's Special Operation in Ukraine
On February 24, Russia launched a special military operation in Ukraine, aiming to liberate the Donbass region where the people's republics of Donetsk and Lugansk had been living under regular attacks from Kiev's forces.

Israel Attempts to Help Ukraine With Aid and Mediation, But How is it Being Taken in Kiev?

© REUTERS / RONEN ZVULUNAn Israeli man helps a Ukranian refugee as she arrives from Romania after Russia's invasion of Ukraine, at Ben Gurion international airport in Lod near Tel Aviv, Israel, March 8, 2022
An Israeli man helps a Ukranian refugee as she arrives from Romania after Russia's invasion of Ukraine, at Ben Gurion international airport in Lod near Tel Aviv, Israel, March 8, 2022 - Sputnik International, 1920, 15.03.2022
So far, Israel has made a significant exception to its refugee policy, letting in some 5,000 Ukrainians. The Middle Eastern country is also planning to set up a make-shift hospital in the West of Ukraine that would cost Israeli taxpayers some $6.5 million.
Since 24 February when Russia launched its military operation in Ukraine aiming to "demilitarise and de-Nazify" the country, Israel has been trying to maintain neutrality.
Although Tel Aviv did condemn Russia for its actions in Ukraine and voted against Moscow at the United Nations General Assembly, officials refused to back Western sanctions.
Instead, they opted for manoeuvring, taking measures to please all sides of the conflict.

Limited Restrictions:

Israel has come under immense pressure from the US to join its anti-Kremlin sanctions. The Jewish state has managed to stand firm in the face of Washington's demands.
It hasn't banned Russian planes from landing in Israel (even though all flights to Russia have been cancelled due to the hostilities). It hasn't forbidden Israelis from carrying out cash transactions with Russians, although monetary transfers are only possible in US dollars. It also hasn't agreed to block access to Russia's leading news channels and websites, although it has become extremely difficult to open them through the various internet browsers.

Humanitarian Efforts:

However, in order to please the Americans, Israel has exerted maximum efforts in helping out Ukrainian refugees and those who are still stranded in the country.
Israel, which rarely accepts any refugees in order to maintain the country's Jewish identity, has allowed 5,000 Ukrainian refugees in. Reports suggest that many others are still on their way, with Israel bracing itself for up to half a million newcomers by the end of this year.
Apart from making immense exceptions to its refugee policy, Israel has also started earmarking money to help the Ukrainians. Since the start of the hostilities, Israeli NGOs have come up with a number of initiatives aimed at helping the Ukrainian people. They have collected food and clothes, medicine and other necessary equipment. Some have travelled to Ukraine to treat the wounded. Others have donated money to help them out.
Now, however, this assistance has been taken to yet another level. On Monday, Israel announced it would erect a make-shift hospital in the West of Ukraine, some 11 kilometres away from the Polish border. The medical facility would only operate for a month, would cost Israel some $6.5 million, and would be paid for with taxpayers' money.

Mediation Efforts:

Apart from cash, Israel has also stepped up its mediation efforts. Recently, Prime Minister Naftali Bennett has made a brief visit to Moscow where he met Russia's President Vladimir Putin. The two have also spoken four times over the phone, and the Israeli premier suggested Jerusalem as a potential venue for a peace summit.
Similar dealings have also been registered with the Ukrainians, and reports suggest that the PM maintains constant contact with the Ukrainian leader, Volodymyr Zelensky.

Not Enough:

But how are these actions taken in Ukraine? For many, Israeli efforts are simply not enough. At the beginning of March, Zelensky said he was disappointed with Bennett, who was not "wrapped" in the Ukrainian flag.
Ukrainian ambassador to Israel Yevgen Korniychuk has also slammed Tel Aviv for its “inaction”. He lamented the country had refused to provide Kiev with the Iron Dome defence system and other equipment. He criticised Israel for not sanctioning Russia, not blocking its TV channels and not taking enough refugees in.
Harsh words have also been said about Israel's mediation efforts. Recently, a high-ranking official in the Ukrainian government told i24NEWS that the Jewish state was acting as a "mailbox" that aimed at relaying messages from one side to another. It hadn't taken an active role in resolving the conflict, he claimed.
Will this criticism impact decision-makers in Israel? It's unlikely, partially because Israel and Russia have a number of common interests, including coordination in Syria and partially due to the fact that the majority of the Israeli public (67 percent) believes Israel should stay out of the raging conflict.
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