The Ukrainian government has officially sent Israel a request for air defense systems that will counter ballistic missiles and drones used by Russia.
According to the letter, Russia has pivoted to another method of attack, including the use of Iranian-made drones against cities and civilian buildings. Russian Federation arms of Fateh-110 and Zolfaghar ballistic missiles from Iran are stated to have been used. Ukraine wishes protection for its civilians, so it has called upon cooperation with Israel and its missile defense systems.
Some systems, like the Iron Beam, are not yet operational. The Ukrainian government claims the use of such defense systems will impede further improvements in Iranian missile systems.
This will "significantly contribute in strengthening Iran's potential of producing offensive weapons and, as a result, will increase the security threats for the State of Israel and the Middle East region," says the letter.
Israel offered Wednesday to help Ukrainians develop air attack alerts for civilians, signaling a softening of a policy of non-military intervention in the war after Kyiv appealed for ways to counteract Iranian-made drones being used by Russia.
Ukraine's ambassador, however, asked for systems that would shoot down the drones instead.
Israel has already provided Ukraine with humanitarian aid, helmets, and bulletproof vests. Israel fears involvement may harm its security interests in Syria. Russia holds a sizeable influence in Syria but allows Israel to operate freely against Iranian entanglements.
Israeli Defense Minister Benny Gantz said in a meeting with EU ambassadors Wednesday that Israel supports Ukraine but will not deliver weapon systems.
"I plan to review and approve an additional package [of defensive equipment]. We will continue to support Ukraine within our limitations," Gantz said.
Earlier this week, The Washington Post reported Iran will be expanding its support for Russia, providing precision-guided, short- and medium-range missiles, along with Shahed-136 "kamikaze" and Mohajer-6 attack drones, which have already been provided to Moscow.
Iran has denied any involvement with its Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei, neither denying nor confirming their use of drones. However, U.S. officials have confirmed the use of Iranian drones by Russia.
Israeli Prime Minister Yair Lapid will be speaking to Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba on Thursday. Gantz will also be calling his Ukrainian counterpart Thursday.
Though it has condemned the Russian invasion, Israel has limited its Ukraine assistance to humanitarian relief, citing a desire for continued cooperation with Moscow over war-ravaged neighbor Syria and to ensure the wellbeing of Russia's Jews.
Ukraine stepped up appeals for Israeli help after reporting multiple Russian strikes using Iranian Shahed-136 'kamikaze' drones. Iran denies supplying drones to Russia, while the Kremlin has not commented.
Information from Reuters was used in this report.
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