Blinken meets with Israeli counterpart on Russian invasion
Secretary of State Antony Blinken met with his Israeli counterpart on Monday to be briefed on recent Israeli talks with Russian President Vladimir Putin and discuss efforts to end Moscow’s assault against Ukraine.
Blinken, who is traveling in Europe, met with Israeli Foreign Minister Yair Lapid in Riga, Latvia, and expressed appreciation for Israel’s efforts to mediate between Moscow and Kyiv.
“[We] very much appreciate all of your engagements in the effort to stop this Russian aggression in Ukraine,” the secretary said ahead of the meeting, adding the discussion would include efforts to find a diplomatic solution.
“I look forward to hearing your ideas, hearing about some of the engagements that Israel has had, but we appreciate all efforts by friends and allies to look for a diplomatic resolution.”
Blinken and Lapid were also expected to talk about U.S. efforts to revive the 2015 nuclear deal with Iran, which Israel opposes and is under pressure amid Russia’s assault on Ukraine. Moscow is one of the participants to the nuclear deal and is a key facilitator of months-long talks to revive the agreement that are taking place in Vienna.
“The war that is going on in Ukraine and the nuclear talks in Vienna are events that are changing the world as we know it,” Lapid said in remarks before he met with Blinken privately.
“The way to stop a war is to negotiate. Israel is speaking with both sides, both with Russia and Ukraine and we’re working in full coordination with our various allies, the United States and with our European partners,” Lapid said.
“And we will of course discuss the status of the nuclear talks in Vienna. It’s no secret we have our differences of this, but it’s a conversation between allies that have a common goal which is to prevent Iran from becoming a nuclear threshold country and to stop Iran’s ability to spread terror and instability around the world.”
The meeting between Blinken and Lapid follows a surprise trip to Moscow by Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett over the weekend during which he met with Putin.
Israel holds a delicate position when it comes to Russia. It depends on close coordination with Moscow to allow the Israeli air force to carry out attacks in Syria against Iran and its proxy forces, while it also has ties with Ukraine rooted in shared democratic values and a significant Jewish population in the country.
Bennett said Israel “will continue to assist as needed” in efforts to promote dialogue between Moscow and Kyiv. The Israeli prime minister also spoke with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky following his meeting with Putin and met with German Chancellor Olaf Scholz in Berlin.