US Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs, Victoria Nuland, said on Friday that the United States expects Israel to join the sanctions that have been slapped on Russia in response to its invasion of Ukraine.

Speaking to Channel 12 News, Nuland said, “We are asking, among other things, for every democracy around the world to join us in the financial and export control sanctions that we have put on [Russian President Vladimir] Putin. We have to squeeze the regime, we have to deny it the income that it needs, squeeze the oligarchs around him, squeeze its economy.”

“So in that context, we’re asking as many countries as we can to join us. We’re asking that of Israel as well,” she added. “Among other things, you don’t want to become the last haven for dirty money that’s fueling Putin’s wars.”

Asked whether the US expects Israel to take more measures to help Ukraine, especially when it comes to providing military equipment, Nuland replied, “That’s a sovereign decision for Israel to make. Many democracies around the world are stepping outside their comfort zone to supply security and military support to Ukraine, but what’s most important from our point of view right now is to join the financial sanctions.”

On Israel’s efforts to mediate between Russia and Ukraine in order to end the fighting, she said, “Every effort to try to get President Putin to be a civilized human being and to negotiate in good faith and to get his forces out of Ukraine is welcome. The Prime Minister’s effort was welcomed. Unfortunately, to date Putin’s demands are maximalist. He’s essentially asking for the capitulation of Ukraine.”

“We welcome all efforts of diplomacy and the fact that Israel has had in the past a strong relationship with the Kremlin – we’re grateful that the Prime Minister was willing to use that and continues to be willing to use that to try to get this war to end. Unfortunately, President Putin doesn’t appear to be listening.”

Last Saturday, Prime Minister Naftali Bennett made a surprise visit to Moscow, where he met Russian President Vladimir Putin to discuss the crisis in Ukraine.

From Moscow, Bennett flew to Berlin where he met with German Chancellor Olaf Scholz before returning to Israel. He also spoke to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky several times on Saturday.

On Sunday, Bennett spoke on the telephone with Zelensky, for the third time in 24 hours. Later in the day, Bennett held another telephone conversation with Putin.

A day later, Foreign Minister Yair Lapid and US Secretary of State Antony Blinken held a meeting, during which Blinken told Lapid that the Biden Administration greatly appreciates Israel's efforts to mediate an end to the Ukraine war.

White House press secretary Jen Psaki later said that the US appreciates Israel’s efforts to mediate in the conflict.

“I would say that we very much support all the diplomatic engagements, our European partners of the Prime Minister of Israel, or that other leaders of the world are having, whether it’s with President Putin, as long as they’re also engaging with Ukrainian leadership, which we continue to encourage them to do,” Psaki told reporters.

“We also engage with them before and after all of these conversations,” she added.

(Israel National News' North American desk is keeping you updated until the start of Shabbat in New York. The time posted automatically on all Israel National News articles, however, is Israeli time.)