Ukraine's Zelenskiy discusses Israeli support for Kyiv with PM Netanyahu

FILE PHOTO: Ukrainian President Zelenskiy visits Athens

(Reuters) - Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Thursday discussed ways in which Israel can support Kyiv in its conflict with Russia, the Ukrainian leader's office said.

Zelenskiy has previously urged Israel to provide more open support for Kyiv and criticised its attempts to maintain an even-handed approach in the 18-month-old war.

"The president noted the importance of Israel's support for Ukraine's sovereignty and territorial integrity," read the account of the conversation on the Ukrainian presidential website.

"The two sides discussed possible paths of Israeli support for Ukraine in opposing Russia's invasion."

Israel has provided Ukraine with humanitarian and diplomatic assistance but not arms, mindful of the need to coordinate Israeli air strikes against Iranian targets in neighbouring Syria with Moscow given Russia's clout with Damascus.

Netanyahu's office said the two leaders discussed "the continuation of Israeli assistance to Ukraine, including to Ukrainian refugees in Israel, as well as the advancement of development assistance of civilian air defence systems".

Netanyahu also asked Zelenskiy to ensure safe conditions for the annual pilgrimmage this month by Hasidic Jews from around the world to Uman in central Ukraine, burial place of Rabbi Nachman of Breslov, who revived the Hasidic movement and died in 1810.

Zelenskiy, who is of Jewish descent, said Ukraine was happy to welcome the pilgrims but noted that there was capacity in air raid shelters for only 11,000 people and Israel estimates up to 50,000 could attend.

"This is a security challenge which will require an emergency joint response," the website quoted him as saying.

(Reporting by Ron Popeski and Henriette Chacar; Editing by Cynthia Osterman)