A demonstrator holds up a sign showing the face of Russian President Vladimir Putin made to resemble Nazi Germany’s Adolf Hitller during a protest in Tel Aviv on 26 February, 2022. (Photo credit: AFP)
The Ukrainian Embassy in Israel has made a call to enlist Israeli citizens “to participate in combat missions against the Russian aggressor.”
According to a public Facebook post on the embassy’s official page, the call reads: “The Embassy has begun the formation of lists of volunteers who wish to participate in combat actions against the Russian aggressor.”
It is estimated that around half a million Israelis have Ukrainian roots, with a significant number of them having arrived in Israel over the past few years after Russia’s annexation of Crimea.
The surprising announcement by the Ukrainian embassy comes as Israel’s official stance regarding the conflict is being heavily criticized by Moscow.
On 25 February, the Israeli ambassador to Moscow was summoned by Russia’s deputy foreign minister to reportedly answer why Tel Aviv was expressing support for the ‘Nazis’ in Ukraine.
Tensions in the streets of Israel have also been on the rise, with hundreds of settlers marching in Tel Aviv with placards reading “Putin is the new Hitler” and “Putin is a son of a bitch.”
The comparisons to Hitler in particular have raised eyebrows, as Russia and Israel have historically shared a narrative that the USSR was essential to the defeat of Nazism during the second World War.
Even before the Ukraine conflict started, Tel Aviv had been hoping to avoid making the hazardous choice between Washington and Moscow.
However, on 24 February, the government of Israel was finally forced to pick a side, issuing a statement calling the Russian military operation in Ukraine a “violation of the world order.”
According to a report in The Cradle earlier this month, the Israeli choice is likely to lead to the loss of its privileged relations with Russia, the consequences of which it will ultimately bear in Syria, Iran, and the entire West Asian region.