Syrian solders with a car showing photo of Russian President Vladimir Putin. (AP Photo/Pavel Golovkin) AP Photo/Pavel Golovkin

“Russia and Hamas work in a similar way, and Israel understands this much more than Italy, France, Germany or Britain,” said a close adviser to Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky

By Pesach Benson, United With Israel

Mikhail Podolyak, the head of Ukraine’s negotiating team and a close adviser to President Volodymyr Zelensky told Israel Hayom on Sunday that “Russia is behaving like Hamas.”

“Russia is behaving like Hamas, only it’s several times larger and more dangerous, and Israel more than anyone else needs to understand this,” Podolyak said.

He drew another Russia-Hamas comparison when asked what Zelensky will tell Israeli Knesset members during a Zoom address that is being arranged.

“Zelensky wants to make it clear that Ukraine is ready to deal with it directly, but Ukraine is significantly smaller than Russia militarily. For 20 years Russia has invested a fortune in in its military, increased the percentage of its GDP that goes to security. Now Ukraine says: Help us stop all this and explain to a country as aggressive as Russia that military expansion is not a path to development, but a dead end. This is the message in each and every request of Zelensky,” said Podolyak.

I think Israel will understand this message much more because Israel itself is constantly in conflict with countries or territories laden with military weapons that are supported by Russia and are promoting its destructive philosophy. Russia and Hamas work in a similar way, and Israel understands this much more than Italy, France, Germany or Britain. Israel should better understand the situation in which Ukraine finds itself and I believe that Zelansky will be able to convey this message,” he concluded.

Podolyak also confirmed that Kyiv is hoping that Israel will host Ukrainian-Russian peace talks.

“Yes, we are talking about the issue. Israel is seen as a central place for talks,” he said. “Israel is very sensitive to conflicts – you are constantly under external pressure – and we are in a similar situation, but our opponent is much stronger.”

“Look, mediation allows you to take a neutral look at where there is special difficulty in compromising. Contemporary people, with military escalation, will explain to Russia that this is a dead end, a road that will lead to serious losses to Russia in particular . . . I think Prime Minister Bennett and the Israeli leadership understand this and bring it to Russia’s attention. I think this is a very, very helpful role.”

Podolyak also dismissed Hebrew media reports which claimed Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett had advised Zelensky to accept Russian President Vladimir Putin’s demands.

“This is distorted information. The ultimatums in the initial Russian package were fundamentally unacceptable because they were based on a distorted perception of what Ukraine is, what the Ukrainian leadership is, the Ukrainian army and the like.” Podolyak said.

“Something needs to be understood, and I think your prime minister understands this very well: public opinion is very influential in Ukraine. We are a free country, society influences government positions. We are not an authoritarian country where the government has made a decision and society aligns.”

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