Kyiv wants to have Israel excluded from its allies’ cooperation group, the Ramstein Forum, over the country’s “pro-Russian stance on the global stage”, according to Ukrainian sources.
Meetings of the Ramstein Forum, also known as the Ukraine Defence Contact Group, involve a coalition of 54 nations, encompassing all 30 NATO members as well as 24 other countries. Through periodic gatherings in Ramstein, Germany, or via virtual means, the group’s primary mission is to effectively coordinate the continuous supply of military aid to Ukraine.
Now Ukraine is considering pushing for Israel’s exclusion from the Ramstein meetings, citing security concerns and what Kyiv views as its “unfriendly actions towards Ukraine and pro-Russian stance on the global stage,” insiders have revealed to the Kyiv Post.
A source within Ukraine’s National Security and Defence Council (RNBO) told the Kyiv Post that Israel’s purported assistance has been “lacklustre” at best. The source contended that Israel has been exploiting the information shared during meetings for its own gain, rather than offering genuine support.
The RNBO insider added that Ukraine harbours genuine concerns that sensitive data exchanged with Israel at these meetings might end up in the hands of Kyiv’s adversaries.
Israel has a long-standing policy of relative neutrality regarding the Russian war with Ukraine, only sending non-lethal aid to the embattled country.
Russia and Israel have an agreement where Moscow effectively turns a blind eye when Israel carries out strikes against Iranian targets in Syria.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy’s government has recently become more vocally critical of Israel’s neutral stance. The Ukrainian Embassy in Israel said in June that “the so-called ‘neutrality’ of the Israeli Government is considered as a clear pro-Russian position”.
Kyiv is also said to be contemplating cancelling its visa-free travel arrangements with Israel.
That comes amid an ongoing diplomatic dispute between the two nations regarding the treatment of each other’s citizens within their respective borders.
Ukraine’s ambassador to Israel, Yevhen Korniychuk, has expressed alarm at the sudden deportation of a significant number of Ukrainian tourists from Israel. Korniychuk has also criticised the abrupt termination of health-insurance benefits for Ukrainian refugees there.
Notably, the Kyiv Post RNBO source highlighted Israel’s attempts to ensure security assurances for the sizable Jewish pilgrimage to the tomb of Tzadik Nachman in the Ukrainian town of Uman that takes place every September. Given Russia’s missile attacks, the guarantee of the pilgrims’ safety becomes a formidable challenge, the source stressed.
The pilgrimage, traditionally facilitated by charter flights from Israel and the US, was adapted in the wake of Russia’s invasion, with 20,000 pilgrims making the journey by train and bus in 2022 despite security concerns.
According to insiders, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Ukraine is currently drafting a proposal concerning the visa-free agreement, which will be presented to the country’s Cabinet of Ministers for deliberation in the coming weeks.