Ukraine's Zelenskiy asks Israel to join fight against Russia

Credit: REUTERS/UKRAINIAN PRESIDENTIAL PRESS SER

Adds comment from U.S. Representative Mike Turner

JERUSALEM, Oct 24 (Reuters) - Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy on Monday called on Israel to join the fight against Russia and repeated a request for Israeli air defense systems.

"Isn't it time for your state to choose who you are with as well?" Zelenskiy said in a video speech to a conference for the Israeli newspaper Haaretz.

"Is it with the democratic world, which is fighting side by side against the existential threat to its existence? Or with those who turn a blind eye to Russian terror, even when the cost of continued terror is the complete destruction of global security," he said.

Israel has condemned the Russian invasion. But it has been wary of straining relations with Moscow, a power broker in neighbouring Syria where Israeli forces frequently attack pro-Iranian militia, and wants to ensure the wellbeing of Russia's Jews.

The country faced some criticism of its stance in Washington on Monday. Republican U.S. Representative Mike Turner told reporters on a conference call after he travelled to Ukraine that he was "personally disappointed" with Israel.

"We have never seen, since Bosnia, this level of absolute murderous thuggery against innocent civilians since World War Two and this is the time for all democracies and all countries that have a moral compass to stand together against this type of brutality," said Turner, who holds senior positions on the House of Representatives intelligence and Armed Services committees.

Israel, which will choose a new government in an election on Nov. 1, has limited its assistance to deliveries of humanitarian aid and defensive equipment. Most recently it offered to help Ukrainians develop air attack alerts for civilians.

Zelenskiy said that was not enough and asked that Israeli leaders reconsider sending air defenses as well. He has made the same appeal a number of times since the war started in February.

(Reporting by Ari Rabinovitch and Anna Dabrowska; Additional reporting by Patricia Zengerle in Washington; Editing by Jonathan Oatis and Josie Kao)

((ari.rabinovitch@thomsonreuters.com; +972-2-632-2202; Reuters Messaging: ari.rabinovitch@thomsonreuters.com@reuters.net))

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