Israel’s Foreign Minister Yair Lapid accused Russian forces on Tuesday of carrying out war crimes in Ukraine.
Lapid was in Athens on Tuesday for diplomatic meetings with Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis and Greek Foreign Minister Nikos Denias, as well as a trilateral meeting held with his Greek counterpart and Cypriot Foreign Minister Ioannis Kasoulides.
Speaking at a joint news briefing with the Greek and Cypriot foreign ministers following their talks, Lapid lashed out over the recent revelation that hundreds of civilians may have been summarily executed during the invasion of Bucha, a Kiev suburb, by Russian forces. At least 280 bodies were discovered a few days ago in a barely covered mass grave in a churchyard in the city, with 20 more found on the surrounding streets, each with a gunshot wound to the head.
“We are meeting in complicated times. There is a war in Europe. Once again, a large and powerful country has invaded a smaller neighbor without any justification. Once again, the ground is soaked with the blood of innocent civilians.”
“The images and testimony from Ukraine are horrific. Russian forces committed war crimes against a defenseless civilian population. I strongly condemn these war crimes,” Lapid declared.
“But there is also a point of light in this darkness: the world is not silent,” Lapid said. “The world isn’t cynical. It isn’t driven purely by interests and economic benefit. A coalition, rare in size and power, has come together to help Ukraine, and to stand by its side.”
Lapid said his meetings in Athen strengthened that commitment further. Alongside the improvement in our relations with Turkey, which he called “welcome and timely,” the Israeli foreign minister noted that Greece, Cyprus, and Israel are looking at ways to cooperate in a series of fields, “first and foremost, in regional security.
“Our ability to cooperate in security is critical for the safety of our citizens, and to fight terrorism in the region,” he said.
“We are also examining additional economic cooperation, with an emphasis on the energy market. The war in Ukraine stands to change the structure of the European and Middle Eastern energy market,” he warned.
“There are risks here, but there are also opportunities which we must examine together.”
Israeli Prime Minister Condemns Bucha Atrocities
While Lapid was in Greece, Prime Minister Naftali Bennett was visiting the IDF’s Judea and Samaria Division headquarters, along with IDF Chief of Staff Aviv Kochavi and other top brass.
Speaking to reporters after his meeting, Bennett likewise condemned the atrocities uncovered in Bucha.
“We are shocked by the horrific pictures coming out of Bucha, terrible scenes, and we strongly condemn them,” Bennett told reporters. “The images are very harsh.
“The suffering that the Ukrainian people are facing is huge and we are doing all that we can to help.
“For those who don’t know, the Israeli field hospital operating in the western part of Ukraine has already treated 2,200 Ukrainian citizens, under very difficult conditions — and I think that every Israeli should be proud of this.
“Even in recent days we are sending planes with humanitarian aid to assist the people of Ukraine, we are taking in refugees who are seeking a temporary place of refuge and of course [we are taking in] new Jewish immigrants from Ukraine. We are coming together in a beautiful way to help any way we can.”
NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg also addressed the massacres in Ukraine during a news briefing Tuesday, pointing to devastation in areas Russian troops recently left. Stoltenberg condemned the atrocities, describing horrific images from Bucha as “unbearable brutality Europe has not witnessed in many decades.
“Targeting and murdering civilians is a war crime,” Stoltenberg noted.
“All the facts must be established, and all those responsible for these atrocities must be brought to justice.”