Fox News Flash top headlines for February 16
Fox News Flash top headlines are here. Check out what’s clicking on Foxnews.com.
Israel’s foreign minister on Thursday made the first public visit to Ukraine by a senior Israeli official since Russia’s invasion last year, pledging financial aid to the war-battered country but giving no indication that Israel is ready to provide weapons to Ukraine.
At a joint press conference with his Ukrainian counterpart, Foreign Minister Eli Cohen said Israel would provide a $200 million loan for construction of a health-care facility. He also reiterated an Israeli offer to help Ukraine develop a “smart early-warning” air raid system.
But he gave no specifics on when that system might be delivered, made no mention of Russia and did not appear to respond to Ukrainian appeals for Israel to provide offensive weaponry.
“Israel, as stated in the past, stands firmly in solidarity with the people of Ukraine and remains committed to the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine,” Cohen said.
The visit came just before the first anniversary of Russia’s invasion and as Western nations seek to increase aid to the country.
Since the outbreak of the war, Israel has walked a tightrope between assisting Ukraine and avoiding friction with Russia, with which it has strategic regional interests. Unlike other western countries, Israel has not imposed sanctions on Russia or Russian officials or provided Ukraine with weapons.
ISRAELI OFFICIALS DOUBLE DOWN ON SETTLEMENT CONSTRUCTION, REBUKE US CRITICISM
It has provided humanitarian support to Ukraine, including a field hospital, and pledged to provide the aerial-warning system. Ukrainian leaders have talked about some intelligence cooperation with Israel, but Israeli officials have not publicly confirmed these ties or the extent of any such cooperation.
Cohen met with Ukraine’s foreign minister, Dmytro Kuleba, who said on Twitter afterwards that he was “thankful for all of the support that Israel and Israelis have provided over the past year.”
“During our detailed and frank talks, we focused on ways to enhance bilateral relations, increase assistance, and address shared security challenges,” he said.
Israeli Foreign Minister Eli Cohen listens during a joint press conference in Ankara, Turkey, on Feb. 14, 2023. Cohen arrived in Kyiv, Ukraine, on Feb. 16, 2023. He pledged that Israel will provide Ukraine with financial support. (AP Photo/Burhan Ozbilici, File)
Yevgen Korniychuk, Ukraine’s ambassador to Israel, said that Israel “again assured us that they will bring the early warning system, but they didn’t say when.”
ISRAELI PROTESTERS TAKE TO STREETS TO BLAST NETANYAHU ‘JUDICIAL REFORMS’ AS PM CALLS FOR UNITY
Cohen later was meeting with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy and leaders of the country’s Jewish community as part of the brief trip.
Cohen was reminded of the hardships endured by Ukrainians when air raid sirens sounded as he entered the country’s Foreign Ministry.
Cohen said earlier this year that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s government “will definitely do one thing: publicly, we will talk less” about Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, but would keep providing Ukraine with humanitarian aid. Shortly after taking office, he spoke to Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov.
Israel maintains good working relations with both warring countries, and has large populations of Russian and Ukrainian immigrants. Israel also relies on security coordination with Russia over neighboring Syria, where Israel has carried out hundreds of airstrikes against Iranian military positions in the past decade. Russian warplanes also operate in support of Syrian President Bashar Assad, and Russia and Israel maintain communication to avoid conflict.
CLICK HERE TO GET THE FOX NEWS APP
As other Western nations step up assistance to Ukraine, pressure has built on Israel to share some of its sophisticated military means with Ukraine, including from the U.S.
Secretary of State Antony Blinken said following a meeting with Netanyahu in Jerusalem last month that he had emphasized “the importance of providing support for all of Ukraine’s needs – humanitarian, economic, and security.”
Yossi Shain, a former member of the Knesset’s foreign affairs and defense committee, said Israel’s ultranationalist government — which has butted heads with the Biden administration on the issue of West Bank settlements — may try to gain Washington’s favor by providing defensive capabilities to Ukraine, while “not crossing certain lines that will endanger its lesser involvement because of the threats of Russia” in neighboring Syria.
Last year, Israel’s former prime minister, Naftali Bennett, attempted briefly to mediate between the sides, flying to Moscow shortly after Russia’s invasion and meeting with President Vladimir Putin. Bennett said an interview earlier this month that Putin assured him at the time that Russia would not kill Zelenskyy.