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Israel’s Defense Minister: ‘Our policy vis-a-vis Ukraine will not change, we will not provide weapon systems’

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Benny Gantz’ remarks came after Ukrainian Fopreign Minister said he would formally ask Israel for air defense systems. The request will be made to Jerusalem amid ongoing Russian aerial bombardments in Ukraine and revelations that Tehran is providing Moscow with suicide drones and other arms, Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kulebay told a press conference on Tuesday.

Several reports said that Iran has sent trainers from the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) to Russian occupied Crimea to assist Russia deploying Iranian built suicide drones. The Daily Mirror first reported that around 50 IRGC trainers have been brought in.

 

“Our policy vis-a-vis Ukraine will not change – we will continue to support and stand with the West, we will not provide weapon systems,’’ said Israeli Defense Minister Benny Gantz in a briefing to European Union ambassadors on Wednesday.

‘’We have asked the Ukrainians to share information regarding their needs, and offered to assist in developing a life-saving early-warning system,’’ he added during the meeting at the invitation of EU Ambassador to Israel Dimiter Tzanchev.

He continued, “Israel supports and stands with Ukraine, NATO and the West – this is something we have said in the past and repeat today. Israel has a policy of supporting Ukraine via humanitarian aid, and the delivery of life-saving defensive equipment. I plan to review and approve an additional package, as we have delivered in the past. This being said, 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.”

His remarks came after Ukrainian Fopreign Minister said he would formally ask Israel for air defense systems. The request will be made to Jerusalem amid ongoing Russian aerial bombardments in Ukraine and revelations that Tehran is providing Moscow with suicide drones and other arms, Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kulebay told a press conference on Tuesday.

The Islamic Republic has also promised to provide Russia with surface-to-surface missiles, Reuters reported on Tuesday.

Israel has shied away from arming Ukraine over fears of upsetting Russia, the leading player in Syria, where the IDF has in recent years conducted hundreds of strikes aimed at curbing Iran’s military entrenchment and the transfer of weaponry to Hezbollah there and in Lebanon.

The United States on Monday backed statements by France and Britain to the effect that Iran’s sale of so-called suicide drones to Russia for use against Ukraine violated a binding United Nations Security Council Resolution.

According to Ukraine, Iranian-made Shahed-136 drones have been used by Russia to assault its cities and energy infrastructure in waves of deadly strikes in recent days. The U.S. has described Russia’s actions as war crimes.

Iran intends to send its Fateh-110 and Zolfaghar ballistic missiles as well, The Washington Post said on Sunday, citing American and allied defense officials.

Defense Minister Gantz told the EU ambassadors that Israel is monitoring Tehran’s involvement in the war in Ukraine.  “We see that Iran provides UAVs and in the near future may also provide additional advanced systems. The Iranians lie methodically about selling this equipment. This kind of [Iranian] involvement also takes place in Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, Yemen and additional places and this continues,” he stated.

“Of course, Iran also lies about the nuclear program. They continue their activities in terms of enrichment, development and building protected areas for their nuclear capacities. We must increase international cooperation, build an intelligence coalition and create a credible military threat,” Gantz said.

At the same time, Israel will continue developing and maintaining its capabilities,” he added.

Several reports said that Iran has sent trainers from the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) to Russian occupied Crimea to assist Russia deploying Iranian built suicide drones. The Daily Mirror first reported that around 50 IRGC trainers have been brought in.

These attacks have heightened calls from Ukraine for Israel to provide them with Israeli missile defence systems, that also have the ability to down drones.

Russia’s former president and current deputy chairman of their Security Council Dmitry Medvedev said that that “Israel seems to be getting ready to supply weapons to the Kyiv regime. A very reckless move. It will destroy all interstate relations between our countries.”

So far, Israel has supplied humanitarian and medical aid as well as helmets and bullet proof vests, but have resisted calls to supply any military hardware, including defensive systems.

Since the beginning of the conflict Ukrainian officials have asked Israel to supply its anti-missile defence systems, in particular, the Iron Dome.

Israel has so resisted supplying anti-missile systems for a number of reasons:

    • The payload of most Russian armaments would be overwhelming for the Iron Dome system which was designed to intercept short range missiles.
    • All of Israel’s Iron Dome systems are actively deployed to protect Israeli citizens from potential attacks from Hamas in the south and Hezbollah in the north.
    • Israel’s long standing concern has been to balance their relations with Russia, which effectively sits on Israel’s northern border and controls the airspace over Syria.  Israel operates a “deconfliction mechanism” with Russia, that facilitates Israel strikes against Iranian military build-up and advanced weapons destined for Hezbollah.
    • The system could be deployed against drones, but producing new batteries, in the quantity that would meaningfully serve a country the size of Ukraine is considered unrealistic.
    • The system would require integration into Ukraine’s defence systems, which would also need to include radars and warning systems.
    • Their deployment would require Israeli personnel to operate the system or train up Ukrainians.

It should also be noted that US has also not provided Ukraine with their Patriot anti-missile system.

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