(Photo credit: Getty Images)
The Ukrainian ambassador to Israel, Yevgeny Korniychuk, officially announced on 13 January that Tel Aviv will be supplying missile and drone warning systems to Kiev.
Korniychuk was quoted by Ukrinform, Ukraine’s state-affiliated national news agency, saying that these systems “will be officially transferred from Israel.”
“I think we will receive it in full after a while,” the ambassador added. Before the November elections and the swearing in of the new government under Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Ukraine’s Foreign Minister, Dmitry Kuleba, held talks with former prime minister Yair Lapid, particularly relating to Israeli military assistance and Ukraine’s acquisition of defense systems.
Despite vowing in October that Israel would not supply Ukraine with arms, former Israeli defense minister Benny Gantz had also promised to help Kiev acquire defense and warning systems. At the time, Netanyahu, before securing his victory in the election, said that he would “look into” supplying Ukraine with these systems.
“We all have sympathy for Ukraine. It’s not even a question,” he said.
So far, Tel Aviv has refused to officially provide military assistance to Ukraine in order to avoid sparking a crisis with Moscow. Despite this, it has offered significant amounts of humanitarian aid and intelligence, and has covertly provided training assistance to Ukrainian volunteers fighting against the Russians. Such actions have caused tension between Russia and Israel.
In November, Israeli-made military vehicles were spotted on the Ukrainian battlefield, making it difficult for Israel to deny ‘direct’ involvement in the conflict, as it has.
Upon the swearing in of Netanyahu’s new government, experts speculated that Israel-Russia tensions would fizzle out due to traditionally warm relations between the Israeli prime minister and President Vladimir Putin.
“Netanyahu has historically viewed close relations with Putin as useful to his image as a strong leader with global influence,” said Jonathan Rhynhold, head of the Political Science department at Israel’s Bar-Ilan university.
On 2 January, Israel’s newly appointed Foreign Minister Eli Cohen signaled a policy shift with Russia after their recent souring of relations due to the Ukraine conflict.
Cohen announced that Israel would take a step back on the conflict and no longer publicly condemn Russia, while also vowing to draft a “responsible” policy on the war. This strongly contradicts Korniychuk’s announcement of the upcoming delivery of warning systems from Israel to Ukraine.