A leading Ukranian politician has accused the Israeli government of “betraying” people attempting to escape the brutal Russian invasion of her country by placing strict limits on the numbers of refugees now allowed to remain there.
Speaking to Jewish News, Alyona Shkrum, elected People’s Deputy of Ukraine, compared the suffering now being experienced by her people at the hands of Vladimir Putin’s troops to that which took place under the German Nazis.
The Cambridge University educated lawyer and MP for the Batkivschnya party said: “It is very surprising to us. We don’t understand why Israel has limited the number of people that can come.
“Now you need a sponsor to get in – we had visa clearance with Israel which they have stopped right now.
“Obviously Ukrainians feel betrayed by that. This is a nation that suffered so much during the Holocaust times. For sure they could help the people who are suffering the same.”
In Israel there has been widespread criticism of the government’s response to the influx of refugees – both those eligible for Israeli citizenship under the Law of Return due to Jewish ancestry, and those who are not.
Shkrum revealed she had received messages herself from activists and politicians inside Israel who were appalled by their government’s response to the on-going refugee crisis.
“I think it’s a huge… not even a misunderstanding, a problem that needs to be resolved,” she said.
“I have been contacted by a lot of people who do not support it and they are going to push members of the parliament in Israel and their government to do that.”
Israel’s Immigration and Absorption Ministry defended it response to the crisis on Thursday saying that over 5,000 new immigrants from Ukraine “and its environs” have arrived in Israel since the start of the war.
Shkrum was one of four Ukranian MPs flown to the UK this week to detail the horrific acts committed by Putin and his soldiers, and to discuss effective ways in which Britain and other Western nations can act against Russian aggression.
The had been given permission to fly here by the Ukrainian Speaker of the House, but revealed there were security fears for all Ukrainian MPs leaving the country with claims they were seen as legitimate targets by Putin.
The 34 year-old, and three other Ukranian MPs, all from different parties at home – Lesia Vasylenko, Maria Mezentseva and Olena Khomenko – had already met with Levelling Up Secretary Michael Gove and Richard Harrington, the new refugees minister and Home Secretary Priti Patel.
They will meet with Prime Minister Boris Johnson later on Thursday, after he has returned from his trip to Saudi Arabia.
On Thursday, they spoke to Jewish News and several other media organisations, at a meeting organised by the Conservative MP Alicia Kearns.
They revealed shocking details of war crimes carried out by Putin’s troops during the invasion, including the rape of women, some who later took their own lives as a result of the barbarity they had suffered.
They also told of the murder of innocent children during Russian bombing raids.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, Shkrum compared these acts with those committed by the German Nazis.
“You were fighting a Nazi evil 70 years ago,” she said, addressing the group of British journalists. “Something has been created as bad in my opinion. My grandmother remembers the war with Hitler. She says today children are being deliberately shot.”
Asked how they felt when Putin and Russian media attempted to label the Ukranian resistance as “Nazis,” Mezentseva, an MP for the Servant of the People Party, accused the Russian leader of attempting to “deliberately distort the reality.”
“‘Nazis’? Our President is a Jew. Even the Russians don’t buy it,” she said.
Shkrum also named Marks and Spencer as one of four supermarket chains who she claimed had yet to withdraw their business from Russia.
Marks and Spencer has admitted it cannot close 48 stores in Russia because of issues with franchise shops and complex legal arrangements.
They confirmed to the BBC that the franchise shops are operated by Turkish company FiBA who have the rights to use the M&S name, brand and products.
But Shkrum said: “Every ruble they make goes to the army and Russian soldiers.”
Mezentseva added every ruble paid into M&S in Russia was returning as “bloody bullets” to the Ukrainian people.
Supporting the four Ukranian’s attack on the sale of the goods in Russia, Tory MP Kearns added “this isn’t just food this is blood and rape food.”
Marks and Spencer has insisted it is committed to helping with the humanitarian crisis in Ukraine – and has pledged in excess of £1.5 million to support refugees.
The four Ukrainian MPs all said they felt sadness at leaving their country, husbands and family behind as they were flown out to speak to MPs and journalists in the UK. But they also said it was vital that information about the crimes of Putin’s regime was shared with the rest of the world.
They praised the role Britain has played in supporting the Ukrainian resistance, with one of the MPs calling for both Germany and France to follow the UK’s lead.
Jewish News has contacted Marks and Spencer for further comment.
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