Israel is leaning towards expanding its aid to Ukraine, including military assistance to the embattled country
According to a report in Haaretz, Israeli officials have said that the country can send “plenty of items” to Kyiv that are more defensive, but that air defense systems, advanced weaponry and attack systems would not be sent.
While the increase in aid would be a “substantial step” in what the Jewish state has already provided, the report said it would be more symbolic as it would “not include substantial quantities of supplies” because of the aid already provided by the United States and European countries.
Jerusalem has been trying to strike a balance between Russia and Ukraine, but the newspaper quoted a source as saying that the US and various European countries expect Israel to take a clearer stance as to which side it is on “and to back its decision with deeds and not just statements.”
A meeting by defense officials is planned for the coming days to discuss what platforms or supplies can be provided to Ukraine.
The Defense Ministry did not comment on the report, but it comes a week after Brig.-Gen. (Res.) Dror Shalom, the head of the political security division of the Defense Ministry, took part in a US-led summit that discussed international defense aid to Ukraine.
Israel was among a total of 43 countries – 29 NATO members and 14 non-NATO members – that attended the summit in Germany and Shalom’s participation in the summit can be viewed as a possible shift in stance by Israel, which has been attempting to preserve its close ties with Russia.
Two weeks ago, Defense Minister Benny Gantz announced that Israel would be sending protective vests and helmets to rescue and emergency services. The shipment – an apparent boost of aid following criticism that Israel was not providing enough aid to Ukraine – was not for the Ukrainian military.
As part of Israel’s aid to Ukraine, Jerusalem also set up a field hospital in the city of Lviv and donated several armored and 4×4 ambulances by Magen David Adom rescue services.
Russia is a key player in Syria where the IDF is carrying out airstrikes against Iranian and Hezbollah targets. It intervened in the Syrian conflict in September 2015 on the side of embattled President Bashar Assad, and Moscow is seen as being the main power to speak with when Israel wants to carry out strikes in the country.
Though Israel continues with its security mechanism with Russia when carrying out operations in Syria, Moscow has recently criticized strikes carried out by the Israel Air Force.