March 25, 2023
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu appears to “be thinking about providing us with weapons,” according to a senior Ukrainian lawmaker.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu appears to “be thinking about providing us with weapons,” according to a senior Ukrainian lawmaker.

“Not yet, but we don’t exclude it,” the chairman of the Ukrainian parliament’s foreign affairs committee, Oleksandr Merezkho, told the Washington Examiner on Friday. “Recently, there have been some signs that the new government [of] Netanyahu might be more understanding.”


Israel has declined to provide military equipment to Ukraine over the last year, in part due to Russia’s military presence in Syria, where Israel routinely conducts military operations against Iranian ground forces. Yet Ukrainian and Western officials have renewed their appeals for additional aid from around the world, as Russia’s mobilization and training of new conscripts raises anxiety that Russian President Vladimir Putin might be able to wear down Ukraine’s defenses over time.

“If we don’t get get enough heavy weaponry, which we need to win this war, then the time is on the side of Putin, because … to put it very simply, we are out-gunned and outnumbered,” Merezhko acknowledged during a trip to Washington with his Polish and Lithuanian counterparts. “And most importantly, they don’t save those resources. They don’t care about the lives of their soldiers. And in this respect, time is not on the side of Ukraine.”

Russia’s potential to undercut Israeli security from Syria has helped to deter Israeli cooperation with Ukraine, but the burgeoning weapons trade between Russia and Iran, Western officials hope, has weakened that posture. Netanyahu has invoked Iran’s provision of weaponry to Russia to make the case for stiffer Western sanctions on Tehran, while Western officials have continued to press Netanyahu to open Israeli arsenals to Ukraine.

“Just as Iran has long supported terrorists that attack Israelis and others, the regime is now providing drones that Russia is using to kill innocent Ukrainian civilians,” Secretary of State Antony Blinken told reporters in an appearance alongside Netanyahu this week. “In turn, Russia is providing sophisticated weaponries to Iran. It’s a two-way street.”

Those conversations reportedly are driving a shift in Israeli policy. Netanyahu told French President Emmanuel Macron that he is open to giving “military things” to Ukraine, an anonymous official told the Times of Israel. “At the same time, he underscored that he could not go too far without provoking Russia,” the report added.

Last month, President Joe Biden approved an eventual transfer of Abrams tanks to Ukraine as part of a diplomatic push that spurred Germany to join a donation drive to transfer Leopard main battle tanks to Ukraine over the coming months. On Friday, U.S. officials unveiled a pair of aid packages that include “Javelin anti-tank missiles, artillery ammunition, conventional and long-range rockets” for Ukraine.


“Russia alone could end its unprovoked war today,” Blinken said Friday. “Until it does so, we will stand united with Ukraine for as long as it takes.”

“The extra aid can’t come too quickly, to judge from Merezhko’s comments. This year will be crucial, especially the next six months,” he said.

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