Russia threatens retaliation if Israel supplies Ukraine with weapons via third parties

4 November 2022, 11:47 PM
Flag of Israel (Photo:edu_castro27 / pixabay)

Flag of Israel (Photo:edu_castro27 / pixabay)

Israel is softening its stance on providing security assistance to Ukraine, while Russia threatens with retaliation for supply of Israeli-made anti-aircraft missiles or interceptors to Kyiv, Bloomberg reported on Nov. 4.

According to the report, there was a turning point during a long-requested call between Israeli Defense Minister Benny Gantz and his Ukrainian counterpart Oleksiy Reznikov. Israel has pledged to help Ukraine develop an early warning system – similar to the one that alerts Israelis to incoming missile strikes. Gantz also agreed to assess Ukraine's air defense needs, although Israel refuses to provide Ukraine with the means to shoot down incoming drones and missiles.

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Israel was previously reluctant to get more involved, due to fears that Russian hostility could have direct implications for security in the Middle East and for Russian Jews. Israel regularly strikes Syria in areas where Russia controls airspace, to prevent Iran from helping its proxies. There are an estimated one million Jews living in Russia, whose safety is also a concern, especially as relations between Russia and Israel are at their lowest point in recent years.

But massive Russian strikes on Ukrainian cities with Iranian drones and the supply of ballistic missiles from Iran to Russia have changed Israel's calculus. There is now growing concern that the experience received in Ukraine could allow Iran to finesse its ability to attack Israeli cities. Israel could supply air defense equipment to Ukraine’s international partners. This would allow third countries to provide Ukraine with more of their own armaments.

Russia allegedly warned Israel that it would take retaliatory measures if Israeli-made air defense missiles or interceptors would be obtained by Ukraine, either directly or through third parties. Russia's growing reliance on Iran's military capabilities also fuels Israeli fears that Tehran may seek Russian help with its nuclear program. Israel dismisses Iran's claim that the nuclear program is for peaceful purposes, and says it will take all necessary steps to prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear bomb.

On Nov. 2, Ukrainian Ambassador to Israel Yevhen Korniichuk said that the country's position regarding arms supplies to Ukraine could change.

On Oct. 18, Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba said that Ukraine would send an official note to the Israeli government with a request to urgently transfer air defense systems to Ukraine, due to intensified Russian air terror with Iranian weapons.

On Oct. 19, Israeli Defense Minister Benny Gantz said that Israel doesn’t sell weapons to Ukraine and “will continue to do so.”

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