Russia has ordered the agency in charge of organizing the emigration of Jews to Israel to halt activities immediately.
The directive was issued by Russia’s Justice Ministry and could impact thousands of Russian Jews who want to repatriate to Israel.
This decision is the first of its kind since the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1989.
The Jewish Agency in Russia confirmed that it received a letter from the Russian government earlier this week, but did not provide further details.
“Contact with the Russian authorities takes place continuously, with the aim of continuing our activities in accordance with the rules set by relevant bodies,” the agency said.
The incident comes amid growing tension between Moscow and Jerusalem over Israel’s support of Kyiv in Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
Israeli officials in Tel Aviv expressed concern that Russia may have started punishing Israel for its stances in Ukraine and Syria.
They fear this decision is a warning for a greater modification in its policy towards Israel.
Israel’s Aliyah and Integration Minister Pnina Tamano Shata said she has “appealed to Prime Minister Yair Lapid to work with the Moscow administration to resolve the problem.”
The Jewish agency is the Israeli government’s main arm in giving the Jews access to migrate to Israel, Shata stressed.
She said Jews have the right to immigrate to Israel, and no action that prevents them from doing so is acceptable in any world country.
Russia had previously taken a similar decision during the Soviet Union era before reconsidering it in 1989.
More than a million from the former Soviet Union have moved to Israel in the past two decades.
This immigration was considered a turning point in Israeli history, which provided it with dozens academics specializing in the fields of medicine, culture, technology and science.