In a recent Israeli TV interview, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy articulated hope that Israel would provide military assistance to Ukraine amid the growing military cooperation between Russia and Iran.
Zelenskyy has long articulated frustration with Jerusalem’s unwillingness to provide advanced military aid to Ukraine, such as the Iron Dome aerial defensive system. However, Zelenskyy hopes for a change in the policy after Israel agreed recently to provide Ukraine with advanced communications systems.
Zelenskyy argued that Jerusalem would be helping itself by supporting Ukraine militarily against Iran.
“We are fighting against a new big union – Russia and Iran – and now I hope that Israel will help us, and will strong[ly] react to this,” Zelenskyy said.
During the interview, the Ukrainian president said he had asked the Biden administration to pressure Jerusalem to supply military hardware to Ukraine. However, he also expressed frustration that no Israeli premier has been willing to discuss giving Israel’s Iron Dome defense systems to Ukraine.
One possible reason for this policy could be Israel’s concern that important defense equipment does not fall into Russian, and thus, Iranian, hands.
“I was talking with three prime ministers of Israel already. I don’t understand Israel. … I had meetings and I asked so many times, each of them to help us,” Zelenskyy said, claiming the decision was a moral one: “It doesn’t mean just to give money or military. [It means] to choose the right side.”
The Ukrainian leader said the advanced Israeli hardware could significantly help Ukraine in its battle against Russia, which is employing Iranian-made drones against Ukrainian cities.
“We are fighting against Iran each day, 400 attacks of Iranian drones on our people, civilians, infrastructure. We gave information to Israel, and we said ‘Help us with air defenses.’ … We can join against this evil on air defense. Israeli military infrastructure or institutions also have drones, which also could help us in this attack, in this war,” Zelenskyy said.
“It’s a pity that we don’t have relations [during this war] like I have with Poland or England, that I can, each day, tell [them] the problem and maybe they help: ‘Let’s discuss.’ I can’t understand why we don’t have this kind of relations [with Israel],” Zelenskyy said.
In October, Jerusalem started providing Ukraine with intelligence on Russia’s Iranian-made drones. While there is strong support for Ukraine among Israelis, political leaders in Jerusalem delayed, following the example of most Western democracies who openly sided with Ukraine.
With a large Jewish minority in Russia – now facing a rise in anti-Semitism from leading figures in government, media and think tanks – and the Russian military operating in Syria – adjacent to Israel – Israeli leaders believe that Jerusalem cannot afford a collapse in Russian-Israeli relations.
Zelenskyy said he does not believe Moscow is interested in any mediation toward peace, referring to a rare meeting last March between Russian President Vladimir Putin and former Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett.
“Russians don’t need mediators; they want someone to [buy] time and I think they saw in Bennett such [a person]. They used him [to buy time],” Zelenskyy said. “He wanted to make peace to stop the war but he couldn’t. He gave some medical equipment, he gave a [field] hospital.”
From the start of Russia’s war on Ukraine, Israel has provided humanitarian assistance to Ukraine, including a fully staffed and stocked field hospital.
In October, Putin-loyalist Dmitry Medvedev, the deputy chairman of the Security Council of Russia, warned Israel that delivering weapons to Ukraine would destroy diplomatic relations between Russia and Israel.
“Israel seems to be preparing to deliver weapons to the Kyiv regime. This is a very reckless step. It will destroy all relations between our countries,” Medvedev stated on social media.
The All Israel News Staff is a team of journalists in Israel.