Ukraine Delivers Official Request to Israel for Air Defense Systems, Likely To Be Refused
The senior adviser to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy told Israel’s Kan public broadcaster that Israeli officials’ refusal to provide Ukraine with air defense systems to protect its civilians “causes great disappointment in Ukrainian society,” and places Israel on the “wrong side of history. Mikhail Podoliak made the comments on Thursday morning, hours after Axios reported that the Ukrainian government sent Israel an official request for air defense systems to help it fight back against Iranian missiles and drones used against it by Russia. Axios published the letter, dated Tuesday, sent from Ukraine’s embassy in Tel Aviv to Israel’s Foreign Affairs Ministry. The letter notes that Russia “has switched to new methods of its armed aggression against Ukraine, including launching air attacks on large Ukrainian cities and other civil settlements” carried out by Iranian drones and missiles, and requests from Israel “defense systems, in particular: Iron Beam, Barak-8, Patriot, Iron Dome, David’s Sling, Arrow Interceptor and Israeli support in training for Ukrainian operators.” Iron Beam is not yet operational and the Patriot air defense system is made in the United States. The letter points out that “positive experience gained by Iran of using of the above-mentioned weapons in Ukraine will lead to further improvement of Iranian systems, which will also significantly contribute in strengthening Iran’s potential of producing offensive weapons and, as a result, will increase security threats for the State of Israel and the Middle East region.” On Wednesday night, Israel’s Defense Minister Benny Gantz told ambassadors from the countries of the European Union that Israel would not provide weapons to Ukraine “I would like to emphasize that Israel will not deliver weapon systems to Ukraine due to a variety of operational considerations. We will continue to support Ukraine within our limitations, as we have done in the past,” Gantz said. “We have sent a request to the Ukrainians to share information about their needs for air defense alerts. Once we gain this information, we will be able to assist in the development of a life-saving civilian early-warning system.” Israel remains concerned about sending weapons and military equipment to Ukraine out of fear of angering Russia, which is actively engaged in Syria on Israel’s northern border.