Ukraine’s Jewish Chief of Staff criticizes Israel over Iran drones

Ukraine’s Jewish Chief of Staff criticizes Israel over Iran drones

Ukrainian President Zelensky’s Chief of Staff came out with harsh criticism against Israel, blaming the Jewish state for withholding military aid. The criticism raises questions about why so many Jews in Zelensky’s inner circle have close ties with the notorious neo-Nazi Azov Battalion.

Andriy Yermak, the Head of the Office of the President of Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, singled Israel out for harsh criticism on Tuesday. 

“Nobody but Israel can provide equipment to combat attacks by Iranian drones,” Yermak said to Israeli reporters. 

Earlier this month, the White House released a statement that Russia was deepening its defense cooperation with Iran and had received hundreds of one-way attack Shahed-136 suicide drones that it is using to strike Ukraine. 

“Russia has been using Iranian UAVs in recent weeks to strike Kyiv and terrorize the Ukrainian population, and the Russia-Iran military partnership appears to be deepening,” White House spokesman John Kirby said in a statement.

Yermak told the Israeli reporters that the Iranian drones posed a threat to Israel as well.

“We can see the Kremlin dictator [Russian President Vladimir Putin] taking family photos with Iranian leaders and then this Iranian weaponry is being used against us and against you,” Yermak said to Israeli reporters from the Office of the Ukrainian President. “I don’t know what else is needed.”

“Our position is 100 percent principled. We never forget about the fact that our Israeli friends and brethren have the same enemy as we do — I do not know why Israeli politicians do not agree,” Yermak said.

His statements ignored the significant humanitarian aid Israel has provided Ukraine. Israel has refrained from providing lethal aid to Ukraine as Russia has a significant military presence in Syria and has allowed Israel to carry out airstrikes against Hezbollah and Iranian military assets.

“I cannot understand why we have so far had the pleasure of welcoming very many world leaders in Ukraine, but not the Israeli prime minister,” he added.

While technically accurate, Yermak overlooked a visit in February to Kyiv by  Foreign Minister Eli Cohen who met with Zelensky.

Yermak, who has a Jewish parent, went on to note the history of Jews in Ukraine made it “natural” that “we should be friends and partners in our relations between Ukraine and Israel.”

This statement overlooks the long history of Ukrainian antisemitism and pogroms culminating in Ukrainian collaboration with Nazi occupiers in WWII. 

“It’s not just friendship that unites both of our nations. From all points of view, Israel’s support is important. It’s important to our people, no matter whether they are Jews are not,” he said.

Yermak is echoing his boss, Zelensky, who has frequently been critical of Israel. In a video address to the Knesset last year, he opened his speech with a stunning lie, saying, “Ukraine made the choice to save Jews 80 years ago, now it’s time for Israel to make its choice.”

It should be noted that Zelensky’s Jewish grandfather, Semyon (Simon), served as an infantryman in the Red Army. Semyon’s father and three brothers were killed in the Holocaust. Zeklensky has denied that his family was killed in the Holocaust, preferring to say they were killed in the war. 

In the address, Zelensky demanded that Israel provide Ukraine with the Iron Dome anti-missile system. The Ukrainian president later blamed the growing alliance between Russia and Iran on Israel.

He went on to say that Israel’s failure to provide Ukraine with the Iron Dome will ultimately lead to Iran developing a nuclear weapon.

Russian President  Vladimir Putin has justified the invasion of Ukraine by claiming that Ukraine must be “de-Nazified”. Putin’s critics point to the Jewish identity of Zelensky as proof that Ukraine has left its Nazi influences behind. But recent reports have shown media efforts to whitewash the prominent display of Nazi symbols among Ukraine’s military. 

While Yermak does not hide his own Jewish identity, in October last year, he negotiated a prisoner swap with Russia that was brokered by Turkey. The swap saw the release of 108 fighters from the neo-Nazi Azov Battalion. The Azov Brigade publicly thanked Yermak personally and Zelensky awarded the Azov commander, Denys Prokopenko, the “Golden Star” Hero of Ukraine title. 

Igor Kolomoisky, one of Zelenskyy’s key supporters who also happens to be Jewish, was a backer of the Azov Battalion. There have been multiple reports that the CIA has been training elements of the Azov Battalion since 2015. 

US foreign policy regarding the war in Ukraine is ambiguous. The Biden administration has provided $45 billion to fund Ukraine’s military. Yet stiff sanctions placed on Russia focusing on military components do not seem to apply to Iran which supports Russia by providing large amounts of high-tech weaponry like drones. The Biden administration recently announced that it is engaging in discussions with Iran over its nuclear program. If an agreement is reached, the administration will release billions of dollars to Iran, a process that has already begun. The Biden administration has authorized the transfer of $2.76 billion from Iraq to Iran.

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