On 29 December, Russian President Vladimir Putin called for the ‘strengthening of Russian-Israeli cooperation in all areas’.
By News Desk
On 2 January, Israel’s newly appointed Foreign Minister Eli Cohen signaled a policy shift with Russia after relations soured due to the war in Ukraine since early 2022.
Cohen announced that Israel would take a step back on the conflict and no longer publicly condemn Russia.
“On the issue of Russia and Ukraine, we will do one thing for sure – speak less in public,” the foreign minister said.
While Cohen announced that Israel would continue to supply humanitarian aid to Ukraine, he also said that Israel would draft a “responsible” policy on the war and “will prepare a detailed presentation to the security cabinet on this issue.”
The Israeli foreign minister reiterated that Israel was seeking better relations with Russia and said he would call his Russian counterpart, Sergei Lavrov, on 3 January. This would mark the first phone call between the countries’ foreign ministers since the start of the war.
Additionally, Cohen accused the Palestinian leadership of rejecting every peace deal in the past 75 years, saying they should stand trial for murdering Jews for simply being Jewish.
The announcement by the Israeli foreign minister comes just four days after Russian President Vladimir Putin called for the “strengthening of Russian-Israeli cooperation in all areas.”
“I hope that the new government under your leadership will continue the line of strengthening Russian-Israeli cooperation in all areas for the benefit of our peoples, in the interest of ensuring peace and security in the Middle East,” Putin said in a statement on 29 December.
“In Russia, we greatly appreciate your personal and longstanding contribution to strengthening friendly relations between our countries,” he added.
Since the start of the war in Ukraine, Russia has accused Israel of providing intelligence, equipment, and fighters to Ukraine.
Russia’s Foreign Minister Maria Zakharova claimed that Israeli mercenaries have been fighting side by side with Ukrainian ultra-nationalists from the Azov Battalion.
“There are mercenaries from Israel fighting alongside the extremist Azov Brigade … Israel will not be able to ignore this, especially with the presence of videos and materials documenting this,” Zakharova told Sputnik last year.
On 3 May, the Russian foreign ministry criticized Israel for supporting the “neo-Nazi regime” in Ukraine, further escalating tensions.