As US Coddles Zelenskyy, Putin Gives ‘Bibi’ A Call

It’s not that it was necessarily intended as a message, but the optics won’t do Israel any good.

By Stan Goodenough | | Topics: Israel-Russia Relations
Israeli then-Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu meets with Russian President Vladimir Putin November 30, 2015. Photo: Flash 90

A curious chain of events took place Wednesday and Thursday involving the United States and Ukraine, and Russia and Israel.

Just hours after Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy was feted in the White House and  US Congress, Wednesday, and hours after incoming Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced that he had formed a government, Russian President Vladimir Putin called the Israeli to congratulate him on winning the General Election seven weeks before.

Earlier, on Wednesday morning, Central European Time, European news media reported that Zelenskyy was leaving his country for the first time since the war began, and heading for the US to meet with President Joe Biden and address the US Congress on Capitol Hill.

The Ukrainian was flown in a US military plane and escorted by American fighter jets to ensure his safe arrival in Washington.

As he flew, news media made comparisons between the Ukrainian and long-ago British Prime Minister Winston Churchill, who likewise left his country in the midst of a war to speak on Capitol Hill.

Reacting angrily to the news of the trip, the Kremlin told reporters that the visit would only deepen the conflict between Russia and Ukraine.

Zelenskyy’s welcome in Washington was extremely warm – a love fest. Biden repeatedly put his arm affectionately around the shorter man, heaping honour on the Ukrainian who literally looked up into the face of his tall American host the way a boy might look up at his dad.

Zelensky awarded Biden a military medal donated by the Ukrainian soldier who had won it for valour. No second fiddle, Congress was gifted with a Ukrainian flag brought from the battlefront in the Ukrainian east.

That body of lawmakers welcomed Zelenskyy with a rousing ovation and abiding cheers that continued while he stood waiting in the well to give his address. (A few Republican Congress lawmakers stayed seated and did not applaud.)

Meanwhile in Israel, a different and – apparently totally unrelated – level of drama was playing out, as the sand in the hourglass marking the time given to Netanyahu to form a new government ran out. Just 20 minutes before the last grain dropped, Netanyahu called the Israeli president with the news that he had “done it”.

Barely had “Bibi” opened his eyes Thursday morning, when his phone rang. Putin was on the line.

The two leaders reportedly spoke about Ukraine, with Netanyahu expressing his hope that a way would be found to bring the conflict to an end.

Putin also congratulated Netanyahu and Israel on the Hanukkah holiday.

Some journalists speculated that, going forward, Netanyahu might make an effort to mediate between Kyiv and Moscow; that perhaps Putin was looking for an exit and had put out feelers in the hope that the Israeli might help.

Other observers pointed to another ‘coincidental’ state visit taking place as Zelenskyy jetted across the Atlantic – that of former Russian President Dmitry Medvedev and Chinese President Xi Xinping in Beijing to discuss “advancing the bilateral relations in a new era and jointly promot[ing] global governance in a more just and reasonable direction”.

These commentators suggested that Putin might have thoughts about trying to manoeuvre Israel into Russia’s orbit by driving a wedge between allies.

Wrote The Jerusalem Post, “When last in office, Netanyahu balanced strong ties with both Moscow and Washington, a move that will now be complicated by the war in Ukraine and Biden’s unabashed support for Kyiv”.



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2 responses to “As US Coddles Zelenskyy, Putin Gives ‘Bibi’ A Call”

  1. Disciple 1978 says:

    Let’s indulge some wishful thinking. Perhaps Biden and Putin can rejoice that a grown up, experienced politician like Netanyahu is back on the scene who can provide some much needed guidance on world affairs. Perhaps then Israel, and therefore God, should be respected after all.

  2. Annette Leon says:

    If ( GOD ) uses men to achieve ( GOD ‘s will,) and seeing BIBI is ( GOD’s ) man as “Messiah” [anointed leader] for his time, as I do, would ( GOD ) dance with the devil ? Putin calls himself a Christian, ?….. just my rambling, or food for thought ???? ????

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