Volodymyr Zelenskyy
Volodymyr ZelenskyyREUTERS/Viacheslav Ratynskyi

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy on Wednesday urged Prime Minister-designate Benjamin Netanyahu to do everything in his power to save as many Ukrainians as possible.

Zelenskyy made the comments at the New York Times Dealbook conference and was quoted by Bloomberg.

The Ukrainian leader said he has spoken to Netanyahu since the recent election in Israel and told him that Ukraine needs air defense systems to protect against drone attacks.

Zelenskyy said that more than 550 Iranian drones have been used in attacks against his country and said that Netanyahu must choose between his relationship with Russian President Vladimir Putin and his country’s historical ties to Ukraine.

“He certainly can help us with air defense systems,” Zelenskyy said, according to Bloomberg. “If he just wants to maintain his personal relations with President Putin, then of course he may continue to do what he’s been doing. But if he wants to maintain an historical relationship between Israel and the Ukrainian people then I think you have to do everything you can in order to save as many people as possible.”

Israel has delivered several tons of humanitarian assistance and defensive equipment to Ukraine during the war, but has stopped short of selling advanced weapons to Kyiv.

Zelenskyy has been critical of Israel due to this refusal, having recently denounced the lack of aid from Israel during the war with Russia, saying his country got “nothing” from Israel.

Later, Zelenskyy claimed that Israel's refusal to provide military aid to Ukraine in response to Russia's invasion of his country caused the current military alliance between Russia and Iran.

He later reversed course and said he sees a "positive trend" in Kyiv's relations with Israel after the two countries shared intelligence about Russia's purported use of hundreds of Iranian drones in the war in Ukraine.

In his remarks on Wednesday, the Ukrainian President also said he didn’t think Russia would use nuclear weapons in Ukraine, arguing it would be more dangerous to leave the Russian President with the feeling that he could take another country’s territory without facing consequences.

“We should not be afraid” of the nuclear threat. “We need to put him back in his place,” stated Zelenskyy.