Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy
Ukrainian President Volodymyr ZelenskyyThe Center for Jewish Impact

Mikhail Podolyak, the head of Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy's office and a member of the Ukrainian negotiating team attempting to hammer out a ceasefire agreement with Russia, compared Russia's actions with those of the Hamas terrorist organization.

Speaking to Israel Hayom Sunday morning, Podolyak said that "Russia is behaving like Hamas, only it's several times larger and more dangerous, and Israel more than anyone else needs to understand this."

Podolyak rejected reports that Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett had told President Zelenskyy to surrender to Russia's demands. "This is distorted information. The ultimatums in the initial Russian package were fundamentally unacceptable because they were based on a distorted perception of what Ukraine is, what the Ukrainian leadership is, the Ukrainian army and the like. Russia's expectation was for a quick operation that within a day, at most two, would lead to the desired result."

He added, "Now, after 17 days of war, it seems to me that Russia understands much more where it has ended up and with what results it will emerge from this war. Therefore the package of Russian demands is taking on a more appropriate character. Bennett's government did not advise us to 'accept the Russian proposal', given the way Ukraine is fighting."

"Something needs to be understood, and I think your prime minister understands this very well: public opinion is very influential in Ukraine. We are a free country, society influences government positions. We are not an authoritarian country where the government makes a decision and the society aligns. The potential mediators understand this, they see Zelenskyy's aggressive and decisive approach, so no one will simply suggest 'let's meet the demands of the Russian Federation,'" Podolyak stated.

Podolyak also referred to the speech Zelenskyy is seeking to deliver to the Knesset and said that it would include messages regarding the assistance that Ukraine is seeking. "It can be military, financial or technological aid. After all, Russia does not sell anything in the global market: no technologies, no new products, it does not sell anything that contributes to the development of human civilization. Russia sells territorial claims, expansion, conflicts, arms trade, so that some like Hamas or its ilk can wreak havoc. Russia is marketing the destruction of civilization."

"Zelenskyy wants to make it clear that Ukraine is ready to deal with it directly, but Ukraine is significantly smaller than Russia militarily. For 20 years Russia has invested a fortune in in its military, increased the percentage of its GDP that goes to security. Now Ukraine says: Help us stop all this and explain to a country as aggressive as Russia that military expansion is not a path to development, but a dead end. This is the message in each and every request of Zelenskyy. I think Israel will understand this message much more because Israel itself is constantly in conflict with countries or territories laden with military weapons that are supported by Russia and are promoting its destructive philosophy. Russia and Hamas work in a similar way, and Israel understands this much more than Italy, France, Germany or Britain. Israel should better understand the situation in which Ukraine finds itself and I believe that Zelanskyy will be able to convey this message," he concluded.