Ambassador Michael Brodsky raises the Israeli flag outside the embassy in Kyiv, May 17, 2022. (Twitter/Screenshot) (Twitter/Screenshot)
Michael Brodsky

Ceremony marks first time Ambassador Michael Brodsky and staff have been in Kyiv since the Russian invasion.

By Sharon Wrobel, The Algemeiner

Israel’s ambassador to Ukraine Michael Brodsky on Tuesday raised the country’s flag in Kyiv as the Jewish state prepares to reopen its embassy in the war-torn country.

Brodsky, who returned to Kyiv on Monday with a group of Israeli diplomats, hoisted the Israeli flag near the embassy for the first time since embassy staff was evacuated from the capital almost three months ago, just before Russia invaded Ukraine.

Brodsky arrived in Kyiv to hold diplomatic discussions with the Ukrainian government and examine the possibility of reopening Israel’s embassy in the country, to restart consular services and routine work in the capital as soon as possible.

Brodsky and diplomatic staff are expected to stay in Kyiv for several days, during which they will return to the embassy building and meet with Ukrainian government officials, representatives of the Jewish community, foreign diplomats and local embassy staff who remained in the country.

Speaking at a conference on Tuesday, Defense Minister Benny Gantz defended Israel’s approach to the war on both strategic and moral grounds.

The Jewish state has sought to mediate in the conflict while managing regional security interests implicating Moscow — criticizing Russia’s invasion, but limiting its support for Kyiv to humanitarian aid. Last month, Gantz authorized the supply of helmets and vests to Ukrainian rescue services.

“Israel’s policy is in the right position both in terms of values and strategy,” Gantz said. “We have the right to provide extensive humanitarian assistance, and to support Ukraine with additional non-offensive equipment, in a manner that is in line with Israel’s broad operational considerations, which are also important to greater regional stability.”

Prime Minister Naftali Bennett’s “mediation efforts in this arena are also important,” he argued.

“One of the lessons of the war in Ukraine is that it is right to exercise economic, political and, if necessary, military force as early as possible, and perhaps in this way to prevent wars,” Gantz added.

Separately, the first ladies of Ukraine and Israel, Olena Zelenska and Michal Herzog, on Tuesday discussed cooperation on humanitarian needs for Ukrainians. Herzog agreed to provide Israel’s assistance with training programs for Ukrainian psychologists to help cope with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

“Israel itself has one of the best systems in the world to fight it. Now, Israeli experts will teach this to our psychologists and volunteers,” the Ukrainian embassy in Israel said.

As part of the effort, the Israeli Ministry of Welfare and Social Affairs will hold two training projects for social workers in Ukraine. The Israel Trauma and Resiliency Center has also offered to hold short training sessions for Ukrainian psychologists.