Netanyahu/Zelenskyy, Putin/Kim Jong Un Meet

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy plan to meet on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly, Ukraine’s Ambassador to Israel Evgen Korniychuk announced Tuesday.

The meeting will be Netanyahu’s first with Zelenskyy since the Russia-Ukraine war began. To preserve Israel’s fragile peace with Russia, Netanyahu has not yet accepted Zelenskyy’s invitations to meet in Kyiv, and Israel has not sent Ukraine weapons during the war, although it has provided Ukraine several tons of humanitarian aid and defensive equipment. This sideline meeting gives Netanyahu an opportunity to speak with Zelenskyy in a lower-profile arrangement. 

Meanwhile, North Korean leader Kim Jong Un met with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Russia’s Far East on Wednesday. Their meeting likely is designed to discuss a potential deal that would provide Russia with ammunition and North Korea with food, energy, and sophisticated weapons technologies.

Israel has walked a tightrope since the beginning of the Russia-Ukraine war. While seeking to provide aid and defense for the invaded Ukraine, Israel knows the grave ramifications of outright opposition to Russia. Not only could Russia retaliate against Israel directly, but it could also arm Israel’s closer, powerful enemies like Iran to punish the Jewish state. The leaders’ choice of meeting may avoid drawing the ire of Russia while allowing them a chance for fruitful discussion.

Putin and Kim’s meeting is certainly ominous. Perhaps the world’s two greatest threats to peace, the leaders look to arrange a deal to strengthen Kim’s dictatorship while giving Russia an advantage in its war to conquer the independent nation of Ukraine. Any deal with their names on it is something the rest of the world must beware. Time will tell what becomes of these high-powered meetings as the Russia-Ukraine war rages on.