WASHINGTON, Jan 19 (Reuters) – White House national security adviser Jake Sullivan discussed the war in Ukraine with Israel leaders during a trip to Israel and the West Bank, the White House said on Thursday.
In meetings with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, President Isaac Herzog and other senior officials, Sullivan discussed U.S. support for Israel’s security and continued threats posed by Iran, according to National Security Council spokesperson Adrienne Watson.
“They also discussed Ukraine, as well as the burgeoning defense partnership between Russia and Iran and its implications for security in the Middle East region,” she said in a statement.
While Israel has condemned the Russian invasion of Ukraine, it has limited its assistance to Kyiv to humanitarian aid and protective gear.
Netanyahu has spoken about reviewing Israeli policy on the Ukraine-Russia war, but has stopped short of pledging any direct supply of arms to Kyiv, despite repeated pleas by Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy for Israel to join the fight against Russia and provide air defense systems.
Statements issued by Netanyahu and other Israeli officials who met Sullivan did not mention Ukraine as being among issues discussed.
But one of the officials, Foreign Minister Eli Cohen, also spoke with his Ukrainian counterpart on Thursday, Cohen’s office said in a statement after the minister’s meeting with Sullivan.
In the phone conversation, the statement said, Cohen “promised that Israel would continue supporting the Ukrainian people with humanitarian aid, in building and rehabilitating in the realms of water, energy and medical equipment, and with continued training for hundreds of emergency-management and trauma-care professionals.”
Cohen encouraged his Ukrainian counterpart to support the designation of Iran’s Revolutionary Guards as a terrorist group, the statement said.
The United States respects the considerations other nations have on the matter of Ukraine, White House national security spokesman John Kirby said on Wednesday when asked whether Sullivan would push Israel to provide weapons to Ukraine.
“We’re not twisting arms,” Kirby told reporters. “But we are certainly talking directly with our allies and partners around the world to see what they could provide and what might be available to them or what they might be able to make available to Ukraine.”
(Reporting by Doina Chiacu in Washington and Dan Williams in Jerusalem; Editing by Leslie Adler)