Israel Mulls More Military Aid to Ukraine Despite Tensions with Russia

By Zalman Ahnsaf

L-R: Lithuanian President Gitanas Nauseda, Polish President Andrzej Duda, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, Latvian President Egils Levits and Estonian President Alar Karis meeting in Kyiv last month. (Ukrainian Presidential Press Office via AP)

YERUSHALAYIM — Israeli officials are considering a further expansion of its military and humanitarian aid to Ukraine, Haaretz reported on Tuesday.

Responding to a specific request from Ukraine, Israel recently sent helmets and flak jackets, but weapons have not been on offer, to minimize friction with Russia, whose cooperation Israel needs in order to conduct strikes on Iranian targets in Syria, where Russia has air forces deployed.

The Haaretz report also comes amid a diplomatic flareup this week over Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov’s accusation that Israel supports the “neo-Nazi regime” in Ukraine, which drew condemnations from Israeli officials, the Ukraine and other countries.

Israeli ministers were said to be holding firm against the sending of offensive weapons or air defense systems, but options “between helmets and Iron Dome,” are being discussed, a diplomatic source was quoted as saying.

Meanwhile, Estonian Foreign Minister Eva-Maria Liimets raised the possibility that her country would transfer Israeli-made weapons to Ukraine, The Jerusalem Post reported on Tuesday.

In the past year, Estonia procured from Israel more than 500 Spike anti-tank missiles and the Blue Spear missile system for coastal defense.

So far, Estonia, has pledged €220 million (around $231,000,000) in military aid to Ukraine, and has transferred weaponry, though none of it was known to be Israeli.

Liimets said that Israel has not blocked Tallinn from giving Israeli arms to Ukraine, contrary to reports published earlier this year.

“I am not aware of any obstacles at the moment,” Liimets said. “So far, we have gotten permission from all countries of origin for what we wanted to donate.”

Liimets said it was “good to see Israel has been outspoken on the issue…. I think Israel has been very like-minded and outspoken about this unjustified and provocative war, which Russia started in Ukraine.”

Regarding humanitarian aid, Israel has sent over 100 tons since the war began, and an Israeli field hospital treated 6,000 people during the six weeks it was open. The effort is now shifting toward Israeli doctors training their Ukrainian counterparts.

On Monday, the AP featured an account of a young Ukrainian girl who was diagnosed with a heart condition that could not be treated there, so she was brought to Israel’s Wolfson Hospital in Holon, where surgeons performed a procedure to correct an atrial septal defect, a hole in the heart between the upper chambers that does not close and can cause heart failure later in life if left untreated.

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